Beautiful Ladies and Handsome Gentleman, I was born in the early 1980s, and my memories of technology from that era are still fresh in my mind. I remember green computer screens, Oregon Trails for the PC and continuous stationary printing paper – whoa! Yes, you can laugh, as those former novelties are now antiquated, but were things of brilliance in their heyday.
That said, whatever is the shit today, will become ancient tomorrow, thanks to innovation. Subsequently, from the 1980s until now, I’ve witnessed so many changes, particularly in the vein of technology. But what I could not foresee were the impending changes that would redefine how humans would communicate with each other.
Those impending changes were the influence and power of Texting and Social Media; I call them both artificial communication. Indisputably, texting and social media have become flagship methods of human interaction in the digital age. According to pewinternet, around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another. From 2005 until 2018, adult usage of social media has risen from 5% to 69%. A 2017 CBS survey revealed that 7 in 10 millennial’s would rather text than talk on the phone.
Firstly, I must make it clear that I use and love texting and social media. Though, as a student, practitioner, and champion for heartfelt communication – i.e., phone conversations and face to face meetings – it’s heartbreaking to witness the erosion of heartfelt human interaction. And, too, it’s scary to imagine a world where texting and social media are the communication channels because people do not talk to one another. Period.
The Absence of the Human Voice
I tend to recognize notable changes during moments of nostalgia. When I reminisce of how things used to be, followed by an apparent manifestation of the sharp contrast between yesterday and today’s world – I see it. It is then that I realize how different the times have become.
To give you an idea, I remember when people who waited in waiting rooms read books and magazines. I can recall going out and seeing couples engaged in conversation and eye contact at dinner. Believe it or not, but families use to enjoy meals and TV time together, topped off with chatter and laughter. Then one day, I noticed a change – a change as in very few people do these things anymore because everyone is on their damn smartphone.
People are not talking to each other as they once did, thus are disengaged from one another. And despite all that I’ve mentioned thus far, I welcome change and accept it with open arms. As mentioned previously, I like and love texting and social media; however, my analytical-conscious mind forces me to look at both the upside and downside to all things new.
Accordingly, for a while, I have thought heavily about the effects of texting and social media on everyday communication. And with my thoughts and observations, I have made a note of the upside and the downside of both texting and social media, as well as the inherent trade-off.
Texting has given us an additional means to communicate. Opting to text has been our quick and easy option to exchange messages while working in the cubicle. Texting is our sidekick when, because of our current company, we wish not to censor our profanity-laden speech. We also text when we just do not want to talk, but still must communicate with other people.
Social Media has been such a remarkable tool that has changed so many lives for the better. Social media has enabled non-A lister’s to leverage the power of the internet to build brands and engage directly with their consumers. With creativity, smarts, hard work, and relentless pursuit, countless people around the globe have used Social Media to build a dream life beyond explanation. Nonetheless, we are so blessed to live in this time – to have platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and many more.
But what about the downside? Though not just in relations to the here and now, but for the future and beyond? One question to consider is this: has such a change in modern-day methods of interaction affected the way we communicate with each other offline? I believe so.
As previously mentioned, there’s a good chance that most people in a waiting room, dining room or family room will voluntarily glue their eyes to a smartphone screen vs. on one another.
In addition to what I’ve just mentioned, below are several other occurrences – downsides – that exemplify how social media and texting have changed and influenced our interactions with other people.
Communicating in the Real World
No one should assume that social media language cannot affect the way we communicate in the real world. It is critical not to allow texting/social media terminology to overlap with formal speech and formal writing while communicating in the real world. For instance, let’s look at face-to-face communication.
Most text messages entail rapid fire-single-sentence-direct to the point communication. However, such a style is not conducive for all face-to-face interactions. All in all, as it pertains to texting and social media, for those who have over-relied on these communicative mediums, one could experience discomfort when it comes to face-to-face communication. If someone is accustomed to communicating behind a screen all or most of the time, their interpersonal skills, like those of an introvert, will deteriorate.
Secondly are the effects on written communication. Texting has given us the latitude to become lax with grammar. After all sending a text or DM (direct message) enables us to relay information in the quickest way possible. It’s all good until one’s texting/social media style of writing overlaps with formally written communication skills. It’s embarrassing when, on accident, LOL TTYL OR OMG are found in professional emails.
The alluring trap of Short Form Communication goes hand in hand with our current fast-paced culture of GO GO GO. And since many people in the states and abroad are living life in a fast lane, they turn to the fast food options on the menu of communications: Texting and Social Media. However, the drawback to the quick and easy of communication is the potential loss of formal communication etiquette.
The use of Emoticons has also played a role in redefining formal ways of communication. Emoticons are useful when expressing feelings, and are intended to convey certain tones or actions.
As one who sees the utility of all innovations when used for the betterment of society, again, I welcome change. But with all things gained, there is a loss – or a trade-off. As more people become attached to texting and social media, what has been traded in favor of quick means to communicate? It’s heartfelt communication.
When you call a friend, family or newfound crush, and you hear their voice, you can’t replace that with a text or DM. This is heartfelt.
Videoconferencing has its place, mainly when distance and costs are uncompromising barriers. Though if you can, opting to visit someone in the flesh and not via Skype or Face time is unquestionably the best form of communication. To see someone in person, touch them and experience their aura are sensations that cannot be shared through telecommunications. This, too, is heartfelt.
While texting and social media DM’s can be saved, the memories shared with others over coffee or short or long phone conversations are more meaningful. Talking, touching and laughing through phone or in person meetings – life experiences that tap in the human spirit – are all forms of communication that may seem antiquated in the eyes of some people.
Much of our food supply has been bastardized and is therefore artificial. With artificial food, breast implants, ass implants, emoji’s, acronyms and zero to little heartfelt communication, what will be left concerning all that’s genuine?
Here’s another vital question to consider: when should one text and use social media?
My answer is this: text when you have to, DM on social media when time permits.
We should make time for all that’s important for us. If the time is not there to meet face to face, then indeed, pick up the phone. Even if only for one minute, it’ll be one of the best 60 seconds of your life. Why? Because talking does something for the human spirit that texts and DM’s cannot.
Talking and physical interactions reminds us that we’re human. Talking and physical interactions make us feel human. And in a world that is slowly but surely favoring AI and all else that is artificial, our heartfelt communication with one another may be all that we’ll have left in this soon to be plastic world.