Communicating in the modern world

Todd Miller | Collegio writer

Forums, Skype, FaceBook, Twitter, instant and text messaging; as technology continues to grow, so does our means to communicate. It’s a fact that humanity has and will continue to find more ways to communicate. We’re social creatures, it’s what we do.

Early mail systems existed for centuries, and semaphore lines began around the 1700s. The U.S. Postal Service was founded in 1775, Samuel Morse made the telegraph in 1837 and 39 years later, Alexander Graham Bell patented the early telephone.

I used to think the telegraph and telephone were invented centuries apart, but only 40 years separated the two.

Each invention greatly improved worldwide society and continued to bring the world closer together. These days, we can communicate with people from opposite sides of the globe with, essentially, a wave of our hands.

More people are using computers for all of their tasks. A person can work, make friends, keep in touch with loved ones or order food faster than ever before and they don’t even have to be home.

However, as technology has become more widespread and easy to use, criticism about society’s reliance and lazy use of what’s available has spread.

Since everything can be done at home on our computers, they say, we’re losing our ability to communicate face-to-face. We talk to everyone through text and instant messages that lack the nuances of speaking to a person and understanding their body language.

However, I think this is only a temporary problem, and is being eliminated as technology progresses. Video calling has been used for a few decades, and has become easier. The most popular form of video calling that I know of is Skype, founded in 2003. It is as easy as instant messaging or making a phone call; you t

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alk to them to their face, as if you’re both in the same room. Just imagine how much it’ll evolve in the next 10 years, five years, or even next year!

New media are often criticized because of how impersonal and silly they are. Such criticisms of social networking sites like FaceBook allow you to “be friends” with hundreds of people. I admit I’ve had times where I made fun of Twitter and the kinds of things people like to post on it.

Sure, it can be ridiculous, but it’s no different than what we already do with each other in person. If something interesting happens in our lives, we like to tell our friends or family about the experience. These online communiqués only expedite the process.

When we share these minor parts of our lives indirectly through Facebook or Twitter, we eliminate some of the minutia that can fill our conversations. Rather than telling a number of people your opinion on a movie, you simply type it once on Facebook, and everybody you know knows your opinion. This could open the doors to more in-depth conversations with people when you talk to them.

Another example I often run into is when something interesting but minor happens in my life. It’s a good conversation piece, but not so major that I keep it in my mind. When I talk to somebody who’d like to hear it, I’ve already forgotten it. Now, it takes me only a few seconds to send it to Twitter through my phone.

Communication through computers or text messages isn’t the end of our social lives.  These forms of communication are no more notable than the invention of things like the telephone. Anybody can go talk about why these are bad, but really it’s just another step in human technology.

It won’t even matter in 40 years. Everyone will be too worried about the next step in communication.


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