Is Technology Ruining Our Ability to Communicate?

Some studies suggest that technology is mentally and physically isolating us from each other and this view has certainly gained momentum in the 21st century. On a daily basis, humans often communicate with the touch of a finger or by bringing a device to their ears. But are our devices eliminating our most basic communication skills? Have we become so attached to technology that it has begun to overshadow and even eliminate our face-to-face interactions?

Some people believe that new technologies have transformed human users into robots. Sherry Turkle, MIT clinical psychologist and author, recently interviewed several college students regarding these concerns. The students responded that the effect of new technology, such as iPhones has caused an immense decrease in face-to-face interactions. Specifically, they also said that while they were interacting with their friends, each person would be there physically; mentally, however, many of them were on their phones and elsewhere.

Journalist Jenna Birch, qualifies concerns and further argues that texting can have a misinterpreted tone. For example, it can be difficult to figure out the emotions of the person with whom is texting. So emotional conversations may be avoided altogether, thus leaving people to “end up on interconnected islands, together in out aloneness,” warns Birch.

A quick look at the history of technology reveals that it was originally intended for different purposes than how it's often employed today. Alexander Graham Bell changed the future in 1876 by inventing the telephone, which was first used for increasing business production and marketing. After a while, however, people began to realize that this new machine could also be used for having non—face-to-face conversations. This offered a simpler method than letter-writing or traveling to communicate. The phone ultimately became a huge hit and soon, other enhancements were made. What started as a little plastic box of wires eventually became a huge sensation that some are now blaming for potentially isolating the human race.

What if, as some fear, technology continues to disconnect the human race? In 10 years will we even know how to have a conversation? Will our existence and happiness be based on the amount of texts we get in one day or the number of likes we get on a post? As technology continues to advance, it will certainly be interesting to note the changing landscape of human communication and, moreover, human connection.

[Source: Smithsonian Magazine]