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Why don't people "talk" to each other, anymore? Has the personal relationship been taken over by personal technology?

It isn't a new question, but I wonder about the loss of getting to know your neighbor, co-worker, classmate or enemy, and the ability to interact on personal level. If we lose that ability to communicate face-to-face, do we lose a bit of our humanity?

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    May 12 2011: What a good question. I think we do lose a bit of our humanity communicating through texts, email, voicemail, etc., but gain personal time. To what advantage one might ask.
    • May 14 2011: I agree with you. You do gain personal time through using technology to communicate and is also very efficient at times and other times not as much. I am sure, we have all experienced a "misunderstanding of tone or message" communicating this way, which has led to hurt feelings, etc.. Maybe it is like most things in life...there needs to be balance and when we rely too much one thing another is ultimately lost or diminished in importance?

      On a related note, I am watching something interesting happen at work. When I first entered the workforce, people would just pick up the phone and call your office...now, i get an email or IM asking permission to call me. I don't see this as "being polite" but people's resistance to invading your space. After all, aren't I being paid to do a job and part of that expectation is to take calls? In this world of collaboration, are we really in our own personal silos? Hmm...?
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        May 14 2011: Your reply is insightful and your example regarding the office is indeed interesting. I do think most, or at least many of us are virgins at learning how to communicate well in this new tech environment.
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    May 16 2011: Socialising through the phone or screen is just another way in which humans socialise. It won't stifle the other spheres of communication.

    If you are suggesting that people had better discussions or more important discussions or more intimate discussions before being separated by screens, then I'm afraid you have a very romantic and innaccurate perception of pre-PC life.
    • May 16 2011: I am no romantic....I just watch the evolution of interaction and observe, how my 9 neices and nephews interact...much more comfortable behind a screen than in person and they are very well adjusted kids both academically and athletically. I have the benefit of experiencing both as opposed to those that come after and my perceptioon isn't innaccurate (there is always the exception that proves the rule). If people can "use" a screen rather than expose themselves, it is easier and not necessarily more effective nor make pre-pc days more romantic. I think, some people justify the personal mobile device mode of communicating as being equal to "in person" because it doesn't require effort and doesn't involve having a true "two way" conversation.
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    May 14 2011: As a person who loves communicating with people I find the new technology satifies some needs and not others. I like that text allows busy people to get to the point. With my blackberry I can take care of a hundred issues a day with people who need answers and not much chatter in a hugely efficient way in my job. On the other hand, I find my face to face chats with my friends more important and fun than ever. They sustain me. I can reach my kids at any time with text and we can schedule time to talk on the phone when it is convenient for them (they live at some distance and I am not frustrated by their answering machines this way.) All in all I see more pluses in my life than negatives.It also enables me to have a rich dialogue with intriguing people like YOU!
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    • May 14 2011: Ed,

      I think you make an interesting point, but might suggest that the reliance we put on communicating through text, voicemail, email, twitter - what have you, encourages the "talking at" approach to a conversation, which then can (and does) carry over to face-to-face communication because we "forget" what it is like to have an immediate exchange or feedback on what we are saying -- the nuances of body language, if you will.

      I would also pose another question as a follow on to your point....does this "one way" type of communication embolden our own self importance over others? If we are always talking at...do we always feel we are right and therefore don't really want an exchange of opinions or ideas that might be different from our own? Are we all just in our own "one man play"?