Communication: there’s an app for that
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 15:01
Smartphones, tablets, laptops. Apps, tweets, posts.
Our society constantly focuses on this whirlwind of new technologies or this business where something can never finish being improved upon. Though the avenues for communication have drastically increased since the invention of the computer, as well as the improvements made upon it many times over the years, the ways in which we speak to one another are also changing — for the worst.
Younger generations are exposed to the typical application of technology in an everyday scenario at an earlier age, from computer labs in elementary and middle schools to the school-board implication of new cellphone texting rules. It is through this advancing, technological society that the practice of communicating with one's peers in a face-to-face interaction seems to be not only disregarded, but perceived as a drawback as well.
Why should I have to learn how to interact properly with other people when I can simply do everything online?
Author Pico Iyer recently published an op-ed in The New York Times, agreeing that though we have "more ways to communicate, [we have] less and less to say." Twitter is a classic example of this. Through the social network's initiation of short tweets at all times of the day, it teaches the general public to regurgitate random details you would not find in a normal, day-to-day conversation.
Furthermore, a 2002 article in Nursing Administration Quarterly commented on technology's paradoxical existence, in that while it provides new and improved ways to implement a certain action or to talk with another person, it also serves as a potential way to promote isolationism. Through this lack of the human element, it's harder for people to perceive meaning through technological means without eye contact, body language and tone. Emoticons and an exaggerated use of punctuation and text-slang only go so far. Empathy, criticism and confrontational techniques could certainly be more easily represented in an actual circumstance rather than a virtual one.
If we can't connect with those around us because of this increase in technological dependence, we won't be able to get a better understanding of ourselves. College is a time of reflection and self-discovery, neither of which is possible in front of the computer screen alone. Granted, technology has been proven to initiate positive neurological synapses in the brain, where customers can gain feelings of happiness or more self-control through the learned application of different technological appliances.
However, instead of finding ourselves, we might just get lost in all of the buzz, click and clack surrounding us. Just recently, I acquired the new timeline feature for my Facebook page, and as I was going through my past, I watched my increased dependence to the site through the years. I would post updates that people did not necessarily need to know, nor did I think they wanted to know if I was happy at 9:58 a.m. two years ago. I easily find myself struggling to maintain a personal balance with technology every day. How much technology is too much? Do I still appreciate other forms of communication? How else could I say this?
But unlike Iyer, I don't believe the solution is to forgo technology in the hopes of seeking complete peace and quiet. Technology has far too many benefits to lessen its societal impact, but it is also not the only solution to mental clarity. In a fast-paced environment, we need to learn our own self control to balance our use of technology so that we don't lose ourselves in the process.