Can you hear me now?

Texting and social media negatively affect interpersonal communication


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Copy Editor Lauren French takes a moment to text a friend back in The Spectator’s office.

Story by Lauren French, Copy Editor

I have an addiction.  My guess is that you do, too, and it’s likely the same as mine.

Think about it.  How many times did you check your phone today?  How many conversations did you have via text instead of face-to-face?  How much time did you spend with your eyes glued to a screen?

I think in general smartphones and social media are useful inventions.  What I do not like is their central role in modern communication, or rather their central role in modern lack of communication.

Calling smart phones an addiction may sound dramatic.  Yet, according to Yale Daily News, the part of your brain that lights up in response to drugs like cocaine also lights up in response to a new text message.

With this in mind, I noticed something when I sat down early for my first class of the semester last week.  It was silent.  I looked around, but no one looked back.  Everyone had their head down, eyes wide and unblinking with their thumbs tap, tap, tapping on a phone screen.

This is not just a classroom phenomenon.  I see it at the bus stop, in restaurants and even at social gatherings.

The American Communication Journal published an article which connects a constant need to text with our tendency to emphasize efficient communication over effective communication.

Efficient communication values speed and simplicity, while effective communication values understanding.   With the plethora of information at our fingertips, our generation is used to instant gratification.

In essence, we are addicted to electronic communication’s speed and ease.

However true that is, I believe solid relationships with others are not easy, and they shouldn’t be.  Yes, it is easier to text your friend or browse Facebook before class than to talk to the stranger next to you.  But is it really more gratifying in the end?

Meaningful conversations should take place face-to-face, not electronically.  If that’s true, then we shouldn’t bother with mindless phone use when there’s a perfectly good person standing next to us.

Our generation’s addiction to electronic communication bars us from making connections with the physical people around us.

We’re all human — we need that sense of connectivity.  As much as I don’t like it, I’m guilty of neglecting real people for my phone as well.

It is not my opinion that we should constantly talk to the people around us.  As an introvert at heart, that sounds like a nightmare.  I mean to say that using our smartphones as a way to kill time negatively affects the way we interact with others.

The solution is simple.  Put your phone on silent, stash it in your backpack and leave it there.  Who knows, maybe the person next to you will do the same.