Is Virtual Super Connectivity Destroying Communication?

While WhatsApp messaging, texting, and the ubiquitous Facebook wall posting definitely has its advantages, the art of conversation may soon be extinct, as those who remember the days of dialogue without a device, become outnumbered by those who do not.

If people aren’t engaged in social media or entertainment, then they are texting or talking on the phone. While modern day society lauds advanced technological forms of fast communication, these newer forms of communication can actually increase the risk of miscommunication because so much communication is influenced by individual perception. While sometimes short messages can be useful and are necessary, but at the same time they don’t allow for explanations when required and can come across as rude. Also, some forms of technology allow the sender to see if the message has been received—and many people feel hurt that it took ‘so long’ for a reply after the message—implying ‘she must not really care’.” This emotional response doesn’t take into account the context of the receiver’s environment. And Facebook communicates information pictorially as well as in the written form and can sometimes give away more information than one would like to communicate, especially to a wider audience—who you were sitting with at a party and were you having fun or not can be mistakenly perceived as something it really is not. In fact, a recent study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University concludes that Internet use leads to small, but statistically significant increases in misery and loneliness and a decline in overall psychological well-being (American Psychological Association, 1998). The project studied a sample of 169 people in Pittsburgh (USA) during their first year or two online. Data showed that as people in this sample used the Internet more, they reported keeping up with fewer friends. They also reported spending less time talking with their families, experiencing more daily stress, and feeling more lonely and depressed. These results occurred even though interpersonal communication was their most important reason for using the Internet.

Red Flags that Facebook and other forms of social networking are ruining your life:

  • You have more communication with people in your tight circle of local friends on Facebook than you do in real life.
  • You’ve ever found yourself saying “not right now, I’m on Facebook/WhatsApp” to your child, spouse, significant other, parent or friend.
  • You’ve ever announced some important change in your life on Facebook before you picked up the phone or met in person with your closest friends and told them in advance (I’m engaged…)
  • You regularly choose to chat rather than to pick up the phone and actually talk or actually visit them.