A dear friend and I wandered through the student union at the university we attended and were surprised not by how many buildings were gone or renovated but by what we didn’t see.
We didn’t see eyeballs.
Yeah, I know that sounds sort of odd but when I provide more details it will make sense.
In our day it wasn’t uncommon to find us sitting at a table at the student union or to find us sharing a pitcher of beer on the balcony at the Pub that overlooked the swimming pool.
We’d watch the girls walk by, talk about classes, talk about summer break and just hang out. But the way we hung out then appeared to be very different than what we saw.
That is because this last time on campus what we noticed was how many people were lost in electronic devices so instead of seeing eyeballs we saw the tops of the their heads.
From our non scientific, impromptu study it appeared to us that people spent more time in electronic bubbles than talking to the people who were sitting next to or across from them.
Since there was nothing scientific about our approach I can’t tell you if our conclusion is accurate or false. I can only tell you I wonder if there is something to it.
Did Technology Kill Communication?
Every time my children have a birthday party or some other function I find myself noticing how there are always children who seem to be more engaged with their electronic devices than with the people around them.
I watch them and wonder what the real impact of technology is on communication.
I think about how technology has shrunk the world in such a way that my children don’t understand why someone should be quiet because you are on a “long distance” telephone call and yet fewer people seem to use the telephone to speak.
Are the devices that were supposed to improve communication and increase productivity doing so or are they causing other issues?
Those of you who have had conversations with me know that I’ll ask you how know something is true and inquire about sources and facts.
So when I ask if technology has killed communication some of it is done tongue-in-cheek because I don’t have any data I can use to give a definitive yes or no.
But that doesn’t stop the father in me from making sure I work hard to make sure my kids never lose the ability to communicate face-to-face and or use a telephone.
That might be the most important or among the most important skills a person can have, the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas.
I suppose the Mark Twain quote above is proof that commentary and thought about whether people were communicating isn’t a new idea.
There is certainly no doubt that every generation seems to look back at those that come after as being questionable.
Still I can’t stop thinking about what sort of influence technology has upon our children and those that follow. Do people know how to put their devices down and just talk or is there something to our concern.
What do you think?