Technology's Impact on Communication

February 20, 2012
By Zach Harrison BRONZE, Maple Grove, Minnesota
Zach Harrison BRONZE, Maple Grove, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Have you ever misunderstood something that was sent via text or email? Believe it or not, simple messages are sent everyday through text, email, or online chats that are misunderstood because of the lack of body language and tone of voice that we lose with communicating through technology. It affects relationships, friendships, or even just understanding a simple set of directions. Technology is all around us, and is changing the ways that we go about our lives everyday. How we communicate with each other is one of the biggest ways that technology affects us. Through communicating with technology, emotion and body language are lost compared to speaking face to face or on the phone.

Whenever communicating through text, email, or online messaging, there is almost always confusion or misinterpretation. This happens in many ways, like lack of punctuation, or simply inability to understand emotion that cannot be conveyed through technology. The sender of the message could be saying one thing, but the recipient could interpret it in an entirely different way. For example, sarcasm is one way of how someone could misunderstand what the other is saying. Text and email cause confusion because the recipient of the message is unable to know the tone or attitude of what was said, or how the person is acting or feeling when they say it.
Body Language is another thing gets lost when communicating via technology. You’re unable to tell if the individual you’re speaking to may be uncomfortable, nervous, happy, disappointed, or angry. This could be very problematic. For example, when talking to someone, they may be angry or disappointed with you, but you don’t know this, so you may act like everything is okay. If something that angers someone is said, it also may be hard to tell over text, while in person, it would be easy to tell with their facial expression and body language. When communicating through text or email, it is almost as though people lose their personalities. You can’t tell if they are happy, sad, or how their reaction to something that is said.
Similar to the lack of body language, one also does not hear the tone of voice when communicating through email or text. This could also cause many misunderstandings. For example, if someone was extremely angry and they sent a text with an exclamation mark, someone may not think that they are that serious, but in reality they may be furious. There are all kinds of different emotions that are lost by communicating by text or email instead of hearing someone’s voice. “We miss the little cues that are present over the phone- voice inflection, hesitation before responding and so forth”(Ballew). Losing all of these things could lead to misunderstanding, and without hearing someone’s voice, we begin to lose the ability to experience part of their personality.
I am a victim to this myself. I will text or email someone to talk to them instead of calling them all the time. Not only do I regularly communicate through technology, but I also have been in situations where I said something that wasn’t understood, or something was said to me that I misunderstood. For example, I can be sarcastic a lot, but when communicating over text or Facebook chat, people sometimes think I am serious when saying something, while I am actually being sarcastic. I completely understand how people could think that texting or talking online is easier, but by doing this, we are not exercising the skill that we were given of being able to have a conversation. I think that technology is great, and that it helps a lot, but when really wanting to experience someone’s personality, I think that a face to face conversation should be had instead of talking online or through text.
Not only does technology create short-term problems with our society’s communication, but it could also create a long-term problem. If more and more people resort to talking online or through text, the skill of having a normal conversation could be lost. Email and text are great ways of communicating, especially if you need to quickly give someone information. However, they are not good ways of communicating for really getting to know someone, or for having a romantic or intimate conversation. For these types of communicating, you should be having a face-to-face conversation so that you can experience the body language and real emotions that go along with it, instead of just reading an email or text and typing a response back. Talking through text or email also gives time to think of a response. If you were actually with the person, you would have to respond right away instead of thinking of something to say. If people continue to have these types of conversation through technology, the ability to really understand body language and emotion, and the ability to hold a conversation could be lost.

Technology is a great thing. It helps us send quick messages so that information spreads quickly, and it helps people who need to get in contact with someone immediately. Although it is helpful, it is also hurting us. Technology takes away part of our gift as humans to be able to enjoy a conversation with someone. Technology is good in the way that it helps us communicate quickly, but I think that that is all that it should be used for. If you want to have a real conversation with someone, it should be done in person so that we don’t lose everything that speaking face to face gives us, like body language or even as simple as a facial expression, like a smile.
Ballew, John R. "Texting, Email and Intimate Communication .", n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2012.

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