Whether one is using a computer, laptop, cell phone or iPod, technology is in constant use and, frankly, overused. Students frequently peek at their phone for a text, their laptop for an email or Facebook for notifications at inappropriate times.
These addictive habits are not easily broken. Many students feel it is necessary to know what is going on all the time. With the constant need to know what is happening, everyone relies on technology and social networking as the main source of this information.
In short, people have become dependent on technology as their main source of communication, not the secondary form it should be.
It is fine and convenient to send a friend a text message when determining where to hang out or meet, but texting is misused for communicating. It is abused and causes many more problems than it does good.
People can hide behind a text message, email or Facebook chat when approached with confrontation or an uncomfortable situation. Instead of meeting face-to-face to work out serious issues, conversations are streamed through text messaging or some sort of social networking. This allows anyone to hide behind his or her screen.
“Technology offers the opportunity for avoidance and perhaps escaping some of the confrontations we might otherwise have or uncomfortable experiences with other people,” said Dr. Matthew Kushin, assistant professor of Communications. “The benefit is we might gain great control over our lives; the drawback is avoiding social obligations.”
When in the middle of a confrontational situation through social networking, things are said via text or chat that a person would never dare say to another person’s face.
Messages are easily misinterpreted and as a result, people are offended more often than they would be if the same message were communicated in person.
Face-to-face communication helps one to understand the real direction of a message. Body language and tone of voice are critical parts of communication.
In addition to miscommunication, society’s interaction is becoming less personal. Even if someone is not hiding behind a phone or computer during a conversation, when does anyone really have someone’s undivided attention? In a group of friends, it can be assumed that someone is always texting, checking Facebook and not actually processing what is being said.
“I think it’s important that people take stock of the role technology plays in intrapersonal communications and beware and weary of the negative side effects and experiences … in our interpersonal relationships,” said Kushin.
Technology may simplify some things, but when it replaces the human element it actually complicates things. Detaching, becoming more personal and recognizing what it means to have personal relationships where people can really connect with one another will bring forth the excellence technology can provide.