The Future of Social Interaction

“Just text me, I don’t answer my phone.” How many times have you heard that phrase? How many times have you said that phrase? Of course we all know of the days before texts and even the days before phones. It’s almost hard to imagine having to send a letter or to physically travel to someone in order to deliver a message. It’s becoming less uncommon to even pick up the phone to take or make a call; we’re too busy, or it’s less convenient, or it takes too much time. Whatever it is we have become a culture of instant gratification thanks to social media outlets and text messaging this is something that I see compounding rather than receding as technology grows. In some aspects it’s not a bad thing, apps like groupme are great for organizing plans with a group of people. Groupme is a chat application that allows a user to create a group of select users, then when you send messages in that chat it goes out to the group and keeps everything in order. But there is a lack of face-to-face communication that gets lost in translation when using any text-based media. Non-verbal communication, body language in this instance, is integral to communication as a whole. With a text you can make a sad face or a happy face, but so much of that can either be fake or slightly off. For example, if you were upset about a situation but you tried to smile anyway the person you were interacting with would likely pick up on the nonverbal cues that you are upset. However if you were to text something and insert a smiley face the receiver would likely not know that there was anything wrong. I do believe that it is pretty well understood that there is a loss of communication with text, but I don’t think that will slow anything down. I’m sure they said the same things when the telephone was introduced.

“So then I jumped out -” “Oh yeah, I read that on your facebook!” “Oh.” The biggest conversation killer is being cut off because the listener has already read your story on facebook. Now what do you talk about? Elaborate on the story? What if that’s already happened in the comments? The ability for us to tell our story and narrative to the world in a few keystrokes and a click of a button has both negative and positive implications. Self-expression and sharing can allow others an insight into your life and the distance of face-to-face communication can greatly increase a person’s self-disclosure. Sometimes that’s good and can allow feelings to be shared that may otherwise not have been shared. Other times we get a little too much self-disclosure and it’s not good. With the future of social interaction I feel that people may be able to open up more and more with each other online, but that maybe people will not know how to open up with someone face to face. I think overall its fine right now, but I do think that social skills are on the decline. And why wouldn’t they be? Practice makes perfect they say, and social interactions are learned behaviors overall. Sure all kids smile, but it’s only through learned behavior that we learn when it’s inappropriate to smile. Maybe I’m rambling now, but I do want to impart that I do not think that society is doomed, I’ll leave that to those older and grumpier than I. But I do think it’s important that we remember that face-to-face interaction is important and despite convenience it should be practiced and learned when possible.

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