Editorials

Technological advances impede communication

by KAREN LU 

Though the advent of cellular technology has brought a more efficient means of communication, its use has hindered our ability to interact with others, as more and more people are opting to communicate virtually rather than direct expression in person. 

    Over the span of centuries, communication technology has come far, evolving from messages sent through intermediaries to using the telegraph to the life-changing invention of the telephone. Sending messages, which used to take days, can be achieved with the click of a button, reaching the other person in mere seconds. 

     More often than not, people opt for the digital method because they feel it is more time efficient. However, convenience may have adverse consequences, as it has stymied our ability to communicate in real time to the point where some feel uncomfortable holding an actual conversation. With their high amount of phone usage, teens are the most affected by the negative results.

    A study was done by Emily Drago, Strategic Communications at Elon University, with the intent of finding out the impact technology has on communication skills. One hundred Elon students were asked 11 questions regarding their use of technology and how they feel it has affected them. According to elon.edu, results showed that 92 percent of the 100 respondents felt that technology had negatively affected their face-to- face communication skills; 89 percent felt that there was a decline in their quality of conversation and 74 percent agreed they disliked when family members or friends used their phones while spending time.

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Graphic by KAREN LU 

    Besides impeding our social skills, connecting through devices is not an effective way to understand and “read” people. The human mind is extremely complex, and our words are full of nuances which cannot be deciphered through the use of text messaging. Although there are a multitude of emojis we can use to depict our emotions, texting cannot replace human interaction as the most effective, means of communication. 

    According to a study done by the American Psychology Association, “people overestimate both their ability to convey their intended tone, be it sarcastic, serious or funny, when they send an e-mail, as well as their ability to correctly interpret the tone of messages others send to them.” In consequence people often misinterpret emails and/or texts sent.

    Setting phones down and communicating face-to-face can also serve as valuable experiences to prepare for the job interview process. Often, applicants are at a loss for words when asked questions because they are accustomed to using text messaging and having time between messages to compose their thoughts. This can decrease chances of thinking effectively on-the-spot, and may adversely affect employment, as many employers base their decision on the interview process.

    Youths commonly have problems starting conversations with their elders and are afraid of being locked into an irrelevant discussion. However, if time is taken to listen to what their elders are saying, adolescents are usually surprised by the wisdom they can impart. Not only would younger generations be benefiting themselves by listening to elders, they would also help preserve their wisdom. Lonely seniors are also very appreciative of youths who are willing to listen to their stories.

      Another downside to exchanges using text messages is the use of abbreviations, as people start to misspell works, which could make them seem illiterate. Because autocorrect is available to fix mistakes in grammar or spelling, senders often do not check their work, relying too heavily on this application. While using this application may serve them well when texting, reliance on autocorrect may prevent them from writing effectively in class or in other situations when they have to physically write something.

        While contact through cellular devices may be convenient, it takes away from the experience of physically interacting and bonding with companions, a very crucial reason to think about and practice how to communicate more in person. 

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