This morning on my way into work I was listening to WTOP, a local news, traffic, and weather radio station. One of the anchors lamented that 2010 was the “year we stopped talking to one-another.” His assertion was that too many of us are using text and e-mail versus voice. I find this both puzzling and absurd.
Though I assume his lament included face-to-face conversations, he implied telephone conversations were included in what he considers “talking to one-another.” I can only surmise from these statements that the only “real” talking is vocal. I found this idea offensive, given non-verbal communication has been used for millennia (remember actually writing letters? pen pals, maybe?).
I’ve heard plenty of rhetoric over the years about any technology that occupies a younger generation’s interest taking them away from human interaction. For some technologies this has certainly been true. However, never in our history have technical gadgets connected us to one-another more completely than our latest gadgets. Computers, video games, and “smart” phones (the latter having started out as telephones) are all designed around social interaction or they’re considered antiquated.
Is the WTOP anchor really suggesting our modern devices are somehow harming our communication? Certainly one of his points was that we e-mail a co-worker who might be in the next cube but what’s wrong with avoiding monopolizing someone’s time with a “now! now! now!” conversation? This is merely another alternative to a sometimes-inconvenient face-to-face chat. The ridiculous – texting someone right next to you with something that could’ve been said aloud – notwithstanding, I find these modern conveniences to be a rich social platform that can empower the shy to be bold.
I’ll say it again: in no point in history has the world been so “social.” The only thing we really have to worry about is making sure our younger generations aren’t complete idiots – that they can construct a coherent sentence with correctly-spelled words without relying on a spelling checker most of the time. Hell I’d even say “yay for spell-check!” as someone who has trouble with lesser-used words that are in my vocabulary nevertheless.
So I ask you, O’Wise Internet, just what in the hell is so wrong with using alternate forms of communication that have sparked even more interaction in our younger (and even older) generations?