Disconnecting: Losing touch in an era of high communication

Do you ever feel that no matter how often you talk to friends and classmates through the internet, you end up feeling further away from them?

In this new world of high technology, it seems like staying in touch with family and friends would not be a problem, especially with the likes of Facebook, Myspace, and other sites of that kind. But despite these various forms of technology and numerous ways of contacting one another, many students still feel a gap forming between themselves and other people.

Regardless of the vast ways of staying in touch with those we know and love, electronic communication still lacks a certain element: depth. With newer, better, and faster ways of staying connected comes a lack of depth lost through the screen.

Like the new advances in robotic technology in Japan, electronics devices are now being made to imitate that of human communication. If the artificial looks less artificial and menacing then people will consume more of it, right? Nowadays you have smileys, smiley graphics, animated graphics, symbols, codes, HTML, and numerous different variations of letters and numbers, that help to get one’s point across.

But does any of this further our connection with friends and family, and can it ever replace human interaction?

“No,” says SJU Freshman Alison Cummings. “Electronic Communication seems far less formal and more impersonal.”

Freshman Humbert Wong agrees. He noted, “You are deprived of things that only can be found talking to people face to face.”
The digitalization of so many things has caused us as a people to generally become a bit cold and impersonal. This may very well create a lack of necessary communication skills required to go further in life.

Personal interactions with others are crucial in life and essential to building oneself as a person. There are many things one can learn about himself and others by talking and observing how others speak. There is also body language, both verbal and non-verbal speech, emotions and many other factors that play a role in understanding what is being said.

Electronic communications seem hollow and less personal. It is much harder to display emotion in a text message or to read the emotion written in one. Messages get lost in translation on a screen or in print. What is meant when the words are spilled out onto the keyboard may not come through at all to the person on the receiving end. No matter how big the font or how many angry faces or exclamation points you include, the exact feelings and levels of intensity cannot accurately be conveyed.
A mini love note in a text feels a bit flat compared to it being said directly from the person. Sarcasm cannot be distinguished in print at times, unless you know that person is sarcastic.
Also, it can slow-down the process of building a connection with another person. It would take much longer for that relationship to deepen; it would become more of a digital relationship. It would seem that there is more to talk about over the internet than there is face to face.

An article on CNN.com in November 2003 stated that an insurance company in the UK, Accident Group, sent out text messages to inform employees that they were not needed anymore. 2500 employees received a text message telling them to call a number so they could hear a recorded message. This cold and impersonal tactic shows that even companies have begun employing distant interactions with their employees.

On the other hand, with electronic communications comes less awkward moments. Say you have something important to tell someone – good, bad or otherwise. It is easier to get that message across without having to worry about the look on the person’s face or their reaction, at least not right away.

Electronically communicating is the way of the future. Messages can be sent to people faster no matter where they are or the time of day. It can reach someone right next to you or countries away, and more people have the ability to keep in touch with distant relatives, friends and former classmates.

However, this form of communicating should not be abused and taken as the ultimate form of interaction; personal, human, face-to-face communicating will never be replaced. It offers things that no other form of communication can. You learn from your interactions with others. Certain gestures and mannerisms are seen and understood. Words and meanings are better explained and understood. Best of all, the communication skill acquired can carry a person many places throughout life.