Technology and Communication

The increase of technology with cell phones and computers has made communication instantly available to many people. I think it’s amazing how time and space have essentially become irrelevant factors in contacting someone with visual devices such as Skype and “facetime” with the new iPhone. As a result, written forms of technology, such as texting and emailing may soon become antiquated.  That’s a pretty scary thought. However, texting and IMing are still popular methods of communicating. I think that the instant, quick, and simple forms of communication generated by texting and IMing are, however, becoming a problem for people who are raised with that kind of technology in hand. My family did not have a computer until I was 10 or 11 years old, and I did not have my own cell phone until I was 16. My brother is 12, has his own MacBook, and cellphone, both of which he has had for about two years. Even before he had his own computer, he had access to our family desktop since the day he was born, and would spend hours playing online games with his friends. Although my brother is technologically fluent, I find he has little patience for other forms of expression.

As a result of growing up with this technology, kids and teens don’t know how to cope without it. While I grew up playing outside and making up my own games with my friends and my sister, or, dare I say, reading books, my brother and his friends need constant stimulation from tv or computer games. The instant gratification of texting and IMing has made reading for prolonged periods of time seem pointless. Why read a book to learn something new when you can just google specific questions and have your answer in 30 seconds? Kids are used to quick blurbs of text and information and do not know how to sustain their attention to receive information over extended periods.

Essentially, I believe it’s important to be technologically fluent, but versatile in your ability to change discourse. Using abbreviations and online lingo when posting on twitter or texting is fine if you know how to transition into academic or professional language. There should be a distinction between how you email your friends versus emailing professors. In this blog post, for example, I am using much more casual language and style than I would in a paper for class, and certainly different from how I would text message. Reading and absorbing information in quick, superficial blurbs is an important skill as long as it does not overshadow your ability to understand an overarching idea in an essay or a novel. In a sense, there is a need to be technologically “bilingual” in order to make those transitions. I’m not against texting or IMing—I love to do both. I do think that if that is the only way you know how to communicate, it’s a serious problem.

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  • Kristen Anderson says:

    Nikki, I agree with you that “there is a need to be technologically “bilingual” in order to make” transitions between modes of written communication. However, I also think that people often need to communicate for texting and instant messaging for professional reasons as well. I have friends who are on their iPhones or Blackberry’s nonstop. Also, within a profession there may be different modes of communication between coworkers. A sales rep who is trying to build a relationship via email in order to get a client to sign a deal is going to have a more friendly “tone” in her written communication than someone writing an email to her boss. It can all get a little confusing and it’s important to remember audience no matter what mode of communication you are using.

  • Hi, Nikki, I totally agree with you! My brother who is 15 now is non stop on his Facebook account and even when we are having family lunch he can’t get rid of the phone :) That is really crazy.
    I am techie and geeky, but even I believe that moderation is the key here. Just use new technologies but don’t forget that real coffee with friends is always better that the virtual one :)


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