Communication is what allows humans to create, build, and maintain relationships with other people. Interaction is a fundamental human experience. However, with the rapid development of technology in the last few decades, the way that we communicate with one another has changed drastically.
(Above: Tech transformations that have occurred within my lifetime)
Personally, I have been in countless situations with people where smartphones have ruled the conversation. Consequentially, the screen of a device then takes importance over what is happening at that particular moment. Good quality interaction and friendship building is missed out on.
As a society, we have traded face-to-face conversations and deep engagement for text messages, facial expressions for emojis, compliments for likes, and quality time spent together for notifications and social media feeds. Often times, we think of our cell phones as extensions of ourselves. They connect us to the world around us and bring people who are miles away from us to a screen in our pockets. This technology is groundbreaking and can be useful beyond comprehension.
Nonetheless, technology is being abused, misused, and over-used. Humans were not created to live life or solely interact with one another through digital screens. Unfortunately, technology is addicting. A 2014 Nielsen report revealed that average American adults use electronic gadgets for more than 11 hours per day.
Due to this, we are missing out on the full experience of life and interaction. By spending so much time immersed in technology, phones, laptops, tablets, and television, we are overlooking our loved ones, our friends, our families, our pets, nature, and so many more things that the world has to offer. Essentially, by being so dependent and reliant on virtual communication, humans are not living their lives to full capacity.
Aspects of interpersonal communication are missing entirely from many of the ways that we communicate with one another on social media, through text messages, or even on Snapchat. Tone of voice cannot be read or comprehended, body language cannot be seen and decoded, and eye contact cannot be made. These key factors of communication are vital in understanding one another completely.
Being present in the moment of face-to-face interaction and choosing to meet with people in person more often than through the digital realm can improve the quality of life for all. To correct the negative affects of technology, seek out personal time with others and make an effort to give those in front of you your undivided attention. Work on your communication skills in all aspects by removing devices from interaction more often.
In a digital and instantly gratified age, you have the choice to maintain control over your own life rather than allowing technology to rule it. Feeling uncomfortable without a smartphone is unnatural. Don't dismiss the effort and meaning of being in the moment with people. Unplug every once and awhile to create a balance between digital reality and actual reality. Put the phone down; have a real conversation.