Too Much Technology Creates Communication Problems

According to Bernadette Longo, everyone has a voice, but we do not hear some voices in the digital world.  So who determines which voices we hear?  I thought this was a great conversation starter.  I consider the World Wide Web a place where anyone can say anything, although we do not always hear the people with the best voices, but instead the people with the most popular voices.  In our culture, people expect to be able to say whatever they would like freely.  People promote the ideas they like the most, which is why we hear the most popular voices.  Thus far, I have used the term “voice” to represent a person’s digital thoughts, opinions, and ideas.   However, perhaps a little ironic, I think our ability to use our “voice” to communicate with another digital has led to the decline in our ability to communicate with each other in the physical world.  I believe that too much technology has created a community of people who feel comfortable enough to hide behind their computers and use their voices, but uncomfortable or intimidated in real communication settings.  Is technology creating social barriers or social connections?

Dating.  Over the past 10 years, the stigma of online dating has worn off as people are warming up to the concept.  But has starting an online dating profile affected our ability to communicate with one another?  Perhaps.  Online dating may hinder our ability to notice social cues and judge someone’s body language.  Quoted in a CNN article, Blake Eastman, a body language expert said, “People have an easier time picking out an emoticon to display the emotion they are feeling rather than actually showing it on their face” (Strickland, 2013).  Also quoted in the same article, dating coach Adam LaDolce says that people are fearful of rejection and, as a result, look to hide behind the computer screen instead of seeking organic relationships.  In my opinion, online dating can be useful for people who may having trouble meeting a mate in their daily life, but I am definitely a proponent for emerging from a hermit crab shell, venturing out in public, and striking up a conversation with a real person.  I think so much of communication, body language for instance, happens when we are with another person, and that aspect of communication is impossible to achieve through online dating.

Job Recruiting.  Qualman mentions the increase in online job recruiting.  Previously, employers paid big bucks to a “middleman,” such as a headhunter or agency, to seek out potential employees.  However, online job recruiting has eliminated the need to hire or pay for such services.  Now, websites such as a LinkedIn, enable employers and employees to directly contact one another.  Unlike Facebook or a similar social network, LinkedIn is strictly professional and allows users to post resume-like information on their profiles.  Users can also directly look at job postings and reach the hiring contact with the company.  LinkedIn can be a great tool for all parties.  However, does online job recruiting affect real life communication?  I think it can have an impact.  Before, professional social networking websites became popular, people contacted potential employers through written and verbal communication.  Today, people still do.  However, I think literacy skills as a whole are declining, and now the quality of the information people transmit to potential employers had decreased.  Especially if people are using sites like LinkedIn as their sole form of communication.  Furthermore, the quantity of information has decreased.  As mentioned in a previous week’s readings, people now seek speedy, truncated answers and do not spend time writing well-developed, quality responses.

Although I think human-machine relationships deteriorate human communication skills, I do not think they are entirely bad.  I believe that online communication can greatly affect our ability to communicate in person.  If we constantly meet people online, we will eventually lose our ability to interact in person and social skills will become nonexistent.  People need to use their “voices” to help, not hinder, their personal relationships with one another so that they do not ruin their real “voices.”

References

Strickland, A. (2013, Feb 12). The lost art of offline dating. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/12/living/lost-art-offline-dating/

Posted on November 3, 2013, in Literacy, Social Media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Technology News and commented:
    Too much technology?

  2. evelynmartens13

    I think you’re right that the stigma is mostly gone from meeting someone through online dating. When people were first trying it out, I used to hear some real horror stories about people getting fleeced. I tried to find out how prevalent it still is but I couldn’t find numbers. I did find this article in Forbes from February talking about those scams usually unfold and that some people had bad Valentine’s days (http://www.forbes.com/sites/billsinger/2013/02/15/fbi-warns-about-online-dating-scams/). However, I haven’t heard as many horror tales from people I know personally — most of those stories seem to be turning out good. I think people must be getting a little more savvy.

    • I think this ties into what Sarah was saying – that many times the only voice being heard is the popular one. In this case (with the news), the most “popular” voice is usually the bad news, the violent news or the shocking news. For every horror story we hear about online dating, there are just as many happy ones I bet, but we don’t necessarily hear about them in the news. But I know personally several couples that met this way and are very happy.

      • exactly what I was going to say! Even if the sound-byte is false and get eventually corrected, people often remember what they heard first, which goes for all types of “bad” news.

    • Here are some numbers about online dating from Pew Internet: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Online-Dating.aspx

  3. From the limited experience I have seen with online dating, the most successful relationships were the ones that started talking on the phone right away, and that found a way to meet soon after. I have two friends that married someone they met through online dating, and another who is engaged and living with their partner. I think the tools can work, but I also think that moving to a more personal form of communication is essential.
    I also think you’re correct about the deterioration of communication. We often communicate quickly using texts, Facebook, or Twitter, and none of those vehicles allows the sender to see or hear the response of the receiver.
    I’m optimistic about job searching in the future. It will be much easier for me to learn how to put myself out there digitally than it will be for another person to learn how to interview well in person. Good interpersonal skills will still be valued as the digital world continues to move forward.

  4. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and/or experience with online dating! I forgot to mention that my father and stepmother met online — they have been married for almost 9 years now!

  5. To me, it seems like LinkedIn has just taken the place of the traditional middleman (like Monster or headhunters). For the most part, you still have to send in a resume or apply for the job through the company’s website. I think the benefit to LinkedIn is that it puts everything in one place for you. However, who knows if this will change. Eventually, will people stop emailing or mailing copies of their resume and just send a link to their LinkedIn profile? It is very possible!

  6. Sarah, I really like this focus on voice and subsequent connections to communication. I wonder if there’s a final paper topic in here somewhere? Perhaps something to do with online versus face-to-face relationships, both professional and personal? I know you’re a teacher, but not sure if your school is looking to add more online communication, either with parents or students or both, but this might be something we could flesh out if you’re interested.

  7. I think the examples you bring up- online dating and recruiting are good examples of your point that online communication can potentially cause in-person communication and our social skills to suffer.

    However, I think if online dating websites were used to make an introduction (that would not necessarily have been possible “organically”) and then the relationship moved offline, the net effect of the online communication would be positive rather than negative. Same with recruiting- I think if the introduction happens on LinkedIn but then the hiring process moves offline, it is a net positive effect that causes no detriment to our social skills and interpersonal communication.

    I think you’re right that it’s when we accept online communication as a substitute for in-person communication that our relationships really suffer,

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