The other day I went out to eat at a local restaurant with a couple of friends. Our waiter came to our table and noticed that each one of us was captivated by our phones and not even conversing with each other. He grabbed our phones and suggested we play a game. Stacking our phones on the table, he proposed that we finish our meal without touching them. The first person to grab their phone must pay for the meal. My friends and I went along with his game and left them there. Every time a phone would buzz, we all jumped a little, but still left our phones stacked. The conversations started to get awkward and long pauses would happen between conversations. It then dawned on me that my little device has ruined the way I communicate with others. These people are some of my closest friends, yet it was almost difficult to sit through a dinner and find topics for conversations throughout the night. When we paid for the check, each of us grabbed for our phones faster than a cheetah runs after its prey. In the end, I enjoyed sitting through a dinner without texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, or Snapchatting. In today’s day and age, it is uncommon to go just one hour without using any form of technology. Even when sleeping, one might choose to keep his or her music or television turned on. Technology has become a part of our everyday lives, expanding as an accessory as well as a necessity and destroying our ability to communicate with others. Through the use of cell phones, social media sites, and online dating, technology has had an adverse affect on users’ intercommunication skills.
One of the greatest successes in the world of technology has been the cell phone. In the mid-eighties, when cell phones first came out, they were used mainly in the event of an emergency. As new models were released and more people owned cell phones, the companies began to produce phones with apps, allowing you to get your work done in the palm of your hand, email, control your banking, and watch movies. Now, cell phones have become a social status statement and are an addiction seemingly as strong as cigarettes. Being addicted to your phone has changed simple everyday events, like going out to dinner. It’s rare to find someone these days who doesn’t own a phone.
Social networking is accessible from cell phones, which affects human interaction in various ways. If someone is alone in public, they might use their phone to log on to social media networks. Instead of conversing with people who are around, they stare at their phones. It’s almost as if the user is hiding themselves in their electronic device, avoiding conversation and interaction. On the occasion that someone new is met, the new method to keep in touch is through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. We talk to people more over the computer or an app than we do in person. Even though we spend a large portion of our day on these websites, it may not feel fulfilling. Face to face socialization can play a key role in development. The evolution of technology has made communicating and socializing difficult when in person, by ways such as body language or even the tone of someone’s voice. While texting, one is unable to hear or visualize a person, which sometimes leads to the misinterpretation of their words, creating confusion. More time is spent on social media in order to talk to multiple people or read what they have to say, than having a back-and-forth conversation over the phone or in person. Online conversations may not feel equal to personal conversations.
Using social media to connect with others is one way to make friends, but you can also use social media to date online. There are numerous dating websites categorized by gender preferences, ethnicity, and religion. It’s preposterous how you can talk to your future partner for the first time, while sitting in sweatpants on your couch or laying in bed. All you have to do is keep a conversation going through messaging. Eventually if you have found someone you like talking to, you potentially plan to meet them for a date. This usually includes going to a coffee shop or out to dinner. Unfortunately, dating sites have made people lazy when it comes to dating. They don’t usually plan romantic dates anymore such as going on a carriage ride in the park, going on a picnic, hiking, or watching the sunset. Dating sites make putting effort into dates, effortless. Meeting the person you’ve been talking to for the past couple weeks through a computer feels awkward and conversations usually seem weird at first, since you are finally face to face. Dating this way may feel forced and unnatural. Since we are unable to examine body language, when communicating online, ideas tend to feel incomplete without examining their facial expressions and tone of voice.
The average length of courtship for marriage of those who met online is eighteen and a half months compared to forty two months for those met offline (Statistic Brain). This means that couples who meet offline take more time to get to know each other. Unlike couples who met online, the offline relationships don’t rush into anything. According to a survey conducted by Stanford University, 32% of couples who meet online, break up, while only 23% of offline couples break up (Huffington Post). One would presume that most would prefer to fall in love with a best friend, or bump into someone, have a nice conversation, and exchange numbers than meet someone on a dating website. However, technology has changed that view for many.
On the contrary, some believe that technology has helped with development. They may argue that socialization has improved through technology. Since most begin using social media and communicating with others at an early age, they are constantly writing and finding topics of conversation to discuss with their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. This could potentially force kids to grow up and feel more comfortable with personal contact, since they constantly talk through their phones and computers, as well as in person. Along with socialization, some may also argue that technology has improved dating. They may insist that online dating allows users to get to know each other comfortably by talking through the website or app. It can also save money and time by getting to know the person first to see if they share similar interest, and could potentially be compatible. Then, they can decide to meet if they are interested. Overall, it can be argued that technology is good, even through a lot of it’s negatives.
In life, there are benefits and drawbacks to almost everything. Technology has made it difficult to communicate because we are unable to hear their tone of voice and view their body language. It has altered the dating world as we now begin a conversation online whereas conversations used to start in person. Only communicating with someone online, can create an alias or false persona, perceiving themselves as someone they are not. Cell phones have created a distraction for users since they can have multiple digital conversations while attempting to speak to someone face-to-face. Social media is advancing, also creating a distraction for users who desire to stay up to date with the newest media sites. However, some may argue that technology allows the ice to be broken with friendly conversations and dating. Who knows, once 3020 comes around, this generation’s technology could be considered ancient and more studies will occur to decide if technology is actually negatively or positively effecting us.
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