We have a communication breakdown

By on April 13, 2005

It amazes me that with all of the technology that is available to our society today – e-mailing, instant messaging, text messaging, blogging, cell phones, pagers – people no longer know how to communicate.

Everyone knows how to send an IM or dial a cell phone, but I can count on one hand the number of people I know who can actually communicate, who can carry on a legitimate conversation with a student or an adult, especially adults in authoritative positions, while keeping eye contact, interest, and their cool.

Most people I see would seemingly rather crawl on their hands and knees across the pavement to avoid a person before they would even think of making eye contact. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that technological advancements are extremely important for the development of our world, but while we are busy excelling in typing grammatically incorrect messages to friends, our society is experiencing a major breakdown in communication.

As I mentioned before, one of the worst instances of this slow but sure collapse is in normal everyday conversation. When I talk to someone, I want them to look at me, not the floor and not their feet. Don’t worry I don’t have red laser beams that will shoot through my eyes and kill you. And why do people shift around uncomfortably like it is physically painful to utter each sentence? Stand still. Look me in the eye, and TALK. It’s really not that difficult.

When you go out into the “real world” and start doing job interviews, do not think that scooting around in a chair and mumbling is going to be mistaken for confidence, because it won’t be. In fact, I’ve read in several newspaper articles that say communication and interpersonal skills are growing increasingly more important than even a relevant degree. Even during informal interviews for positions on campus organizations or elections require some form of genuine communication.

Another thing is, how does anyone expect to make general human connections, much less get involved in a romantic relationship, when they can’t even pick up the telephone to talk to the pizza guy? I hate to tell everyone, but as someone who is currently in a long-term relationship, you have to communicate in a lot of other ways than through the internet. Besides, things can get so easily misconstrued over IM. People need to hear diction. They need to hear tone, so that they know whether that insult you just sent them was a joke or not. A friend of mine was just complaining to me that a boy spoke so nicely to her over AIM, but when he sees her in person, he can’t bring himself to say anything other than “what’s uuuupp?”

What happened to good old-fashioned conversation, or even a not-so-old fashioned phone call? In the time it takes to type a text message you could have already dialed the number and begun talking to the person. But no. Instead, everyone likes to wait three hours for the person receiving the message to take their sweet old time deciding whether or not they even want to respond to it, and then overanalyzing every letter that they reply. Enough!

Unfortunately, our society is becoming more and more dependent on electronic communication and less on actually speaking. We are lazy and it is only getting worse. We need to focus on redeveloping our rusty basic skills so that we can continue to foster intelligent individuals who will grow-up to be enlightening speakers and say memorable things like Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King. Because however interesting you think these petty typed conversations might be, I hope never to see “What’s up? NM. G2G TTYL,” go down in history as one of our generation’s most brilliant quotations.


About Dana Owen