Today, we find ourselves with technological advances that we could only dream about 40 years ago. Though our communication networks have opened up, our ability to speak and write full sentences has decreased as a society. Think about how we used to write full sentences and had dialog with each other. Then we started emailing, messaging and texting and instead of using full descriptions of our thoughts and feelings, we began using acronyms and emojis. Now we use pictures with words across it as our communication. Our ability to communicate, and the English language as a whole, is being lost. We’re resorting to sounds, actions, single words and pictures to indicate how we think and feel rather than detailing and conceptualizing those thoughts.
Basic respect and communication skills are going by the wayside. This breakdown leads to uncivil discord and the inability to understand various perspectives and points of view. We have lost our compassion, reverence and patience. Instead of creating dialog and discussing things at length, we are short with one another and our conversations have become one-sided.
Subtext of emotion is lost in messaging and texting. Personal interaction is important to understand body language, vocal inflection and intonation and other speech variations. We can no longer tell if someone is lying, if there is emotion in what they’re saying or even whether or not they’re joking. Texting is impersonal and lacks depth and character. You could be texting someone and meet them only to find out they’re not at all the same in person as you had felt they were by text.
How can you really know a person without meeting someone face-to-face? When we assign a face to someone, we develop an idea of who that person is and establish a personal connection. If we see someone on television, it’s not the same as meeting that person in real life. We begin to see that person as another human being. Just think about the things we say to each other on social media that we might not want to say in person. If we treated one another with more respect and went out of our way to spend more time face-to-face, we might improve our communication skills.
In a study of 982 adults ages 18-29, Leora Trub, PhD at Pace University found that “Texting can become a crutch and eventually become a barrier to creating meaningful interactions,” said Trub. “Texting all the time can also come from being lonely or bored, and that can lead to isolation and alienation.”
Face-to-face human interaction is imperative to a child’s growth. I challenge you to incorporate more verbal communication into your child’s life – and yours – by exposing them to more social outlets, absent any smartphone interaction. Go to the park, your local skating rink, bowling alley or other public family entertainment venues with your children. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and get to know them. Let your kids meet others their age to help them learn to interact with one another. Building interpersonal relationships today will improve social and communication skills for years to come.