The Digital Debate

No Escaping Technology

Man and Blue Ones and Zeros

We live in a world where communication through modern technology is prominent.  Everywhere you go, people are texting, emailing, writing blogs, tweeting and using Facebook.  It’s hard to take two steps on the West Virginia University campus without seeing someone using their phone or the Internet to connect with others.

According to the 2011 Digital Future Report, 82 percent of Americans use the Internet.  The article also included that Internet users spend an average of 18.3 hours a week online.  The report noted “24 percent of American households have at least three computers.  In seven years, the percentage of computer owners who have a laptop has increased from 18 percent

to nearly three-quarters of computer owners. Not surprisingly, the percentage of households with no computers continues to decline; in the current study only 15 percent of homes in America do not have a computer.”  That’s a high number of people communicating online instead of speaking face-to-face.  How many times have you been sitting at home on your computer or phone instead of talking to your family or roommates?

We have become a society that is completely dependent on our technology to communicate.  It is almost impossible for us to maintain our work life and social life without using some sort of modern-day technology to communicate ideas.

Can you imagine going a whole week without checking your Facebook, Twitter, or email accounts?  Would you feel totally out of the loop?  Would you feel like you had no clue what was going on with your friends, family, classes or job?  Sadly, the answer is probably yes for most people in today’s world.

Of course this use of technology can be good — it provides us with faster and more efficient ways to communicate with others, but it is also harming our ability to communicate with people face-to-face, and sometimes, it impacts our ability to write properly.

First and foremost, technological communication may be affecting our ability to express our ideas clearly.  When you are constantly using abbreviations and slang in texts and online chats, it is hard to remember to use proper grammar when writing formal emails, letters or papers.  Technology can also harm our communication skills at work and in school.  It may be degrading our ability to speak publicly and write formally.  Think of how many professors or bosses have probably received a “cuz,” “l8ter” or “cya” in an email.

Technology can also harm our ability to deal with conflict.  These days, when you have a problem with someone, you can just send them an email or Facebook message, rather than confront them face-to-face and tell them what’s wrong.  Many people in society are beginning to take the easy way out when it comes to conflict.

Finally, technology can damage our personal relationships.  When we spend so much time on our computers and phones, we lose real connection with others. According to atechnologysociety.com, “we make calls on our mobiles and together send literally billions of text messages every year. We take the availability of others – and ourselves – for granted.”

Instead of having a pleasant conversation with our family, friends or significant others, we are gluing our eyes to our computer screens.  Sure technology has its benefits, but we need to take a step back and realize what it is doing to our skills and relationships.

While we are indeed able to connect, contact, and exchange ideas with people worldwide, we are still lacking from person-to-person communication. Online communication consists of text. Only. In person our exchanges are much more meaningful and deeper. We are able to hear the tone and inflection of the speaker’s voice. We can see the speaker’s facial expression and hand gestures. We can observe body language and attitude. We are able to look into an individual’s eyes and attempt to convey a message. We can wipe away the tears or join in the laughter. Online communication cannot offer any of that unless of course you count an occasional “lol” or “:)” .

Online communication could be compared to a post-it note; whereas in-person communication would be a classic novel. We crave human interaction. We feel isolated and lonely without it. As social beings it is healthy.

Some claim that the Internet is ideal for social interactions as it is without bounds and offers complete freedom. It is true that the Internet has no boundaries and the freedom it offers is complete. Interestingly however, researchers have found that such Internet relationships are superficial and shallow. They are lacking in comparison to face-to-face relationships.

This is not surprising when one thinks about it. How many times have we felt disengaged after a friend moves away? How many people on your friends’ list is a true, close friend? How well do you know the people on your contact list? While these people are part of your life, at least at the fringe, they are often not close or meaningful in any way.

Interpersonal relationships and the face-to-face communication it brings is truly irreversible. Innovation of technology brings so many positive aspects to our lives, but it is harming our youth’s ability to effectively communicate with one another. With moderation and monitoring of this technology, we can be able to get the best out of technology without being consumed by it.

Technology is everywhere; there is no getting by without it anymore. You are considered “out of the loop” if you do not use modern technology. Using it for necessary means is completely acceptable, but the problem comes when people get too overly attached to this technology. Communication through the internet and this technology will never be able to completely replace the closeness of face-to-face communication. We are slowly losing these interpersonal communication skills by relying too heavily on this technology. We need to learn to use this technology in moderation before it gets more out of hand than it already is. If this trend continues, the generations to come will be left with little to no social skills.

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This entry was posted on December 7, 2012 by .

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