Did Technology Kill Communication?

The impact of technology is...

The impact of technology is…

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.

Eyeballs.

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.

conversation

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?

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4 Comments

  1. Tim Bonner July 29, 2015 at 5:42 am

    My kids are already vying for my phone or my wife’s to play games. They’re only 5 and 7 and whilst we try our best to limit their electronic device usage, it’s almost inevitable that they spend too much time on them.

    I was only chatting with my son this morning telling him that when I was his age there were no PCs, no mobile phones and only three channels on the TV. My how things seem to change so fast these days.

  2. T Hopkins July 27, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Joshua, you really hit a nerve with this one.  I feel about it the same way you do, and maybe I let it bother me even more.  The art of conversation increasingly seems to be a lost one.  It bugs me to no end to see people sitting across from the table texting–sometimes to each other!  And the birthday parties–yeah… I bring my kids to this one or that one, and think it might be fun to meet a few people, fellow parents, maybe share a few laughs.  But they’re all on their phones, so absorbed that they don’t notice when their kid achieved something worthy of a cheer at the bouncy house, or fell off something, got bullied, or made a new friend.  These parents remind me of Linus with his security blanket–they’d be lost without their distractions of choice.  The real sad thing is that the college kids, the parents, and really, everybody, are missing out on the chance to make some memories in 3D! Memories that are real, that can’t be replicated by watching a video of someone else doing it, for instance.  Do those parents even know how much fun it is to join your kid on the Super Slide?  (Not bragging, but I do–and it is AWESOME).  

    Oh, there are benefits.  I have made friends all over the world (and I have discovered that most of my kindred spirits apparently live in Sweden–and economically speaking, this may be the only connection I will ever have with them).  I’m glad that I grew up in the era I did.  I cannot imagine being flirted with (and all that ensues) via text.  How lame.  

    Everything doesn’t always translate well in print as it might when spoken, say, with a facial expression, a tone of voice, a physical gesture.  

    All summer my kids complained of being bored (when they weren’t watching Vines) and I said, “Why not give one of your friends a call?  Maybe make plans to get together and do something?”  Oh, you’d have thought I told them to set themselves on fire, by the reaction on their faces.  Whether or not they even had the person’s number (and most times they didn’t), they said, “But Mom…that would be awkward.”

    In this age of everyone being connected, the greatest irony is that we have never been more disconnected.

    • Joshua July 28, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      I am torn by it all because I do love my phone and some might say I am too attached to it but then again I make a point to turn it off and put it in a drawer because sometimes that is just what I need to do to make sure I stay disconnected to the cyberworld and in touch with the ‘real one.’

      But the kids, well they have a much harder time doing that. I worry about them and their generation because of this.

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