Are we taking the human aspect out of communication?

With the advent of new technology like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging sites, which serve to forever change the ways in which we communicate and share our stories, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the number of phone calls made are found to be in serious decline, while texting is going up…

For the first time in history the volume of calls from mobiles and landlines has fallen. Media regulator Ofcom recently published a report that found that the total number of texts sent in the UK topped 150 billion in 2011, whereas calls from landlines fell by 10%, and calls from mobile phones also went into reverse.

But what kind of impact does this have on our communication? It’s no secret that in a world who’s pace is forever quickening, we have less and less time to communicate with those around us – eyes down, headphones in on the tube we stare blankly ahead. Reaching for our phones we snap photos and type quick 140 character blurbs of how we’re feeling, what we’re doing and who we’re seeing. BBMing and whatsapping away, all the while ignoring the vibrating, screaming phone calls which seem more and more to feel like an intrusion into the bubble we’ve found ourselves in.

This is something James Thickett – Ofcoms director of research also picked up on. “We are all familiar with the sight of people looking down, brows furrowed, tapping on a plastic screen,” he said. “What we are seeing is different ways of keeping in touch. Smartphones and tablets have substituted for making voice calls. It’s about convenience.”

But what about the seven hour phone calls late into the night with your best friend or your boo? The epic teenage phone calls when you used to speak about anything and everything. Can texting, or tweeting, or emailing really replace that? And what about when you’re trying to get a point across, debate an issue or solve an argument, is the anonymity that hiding behind a screen provides really going to help us in the future in terms of being able to speak eloquently or get our points across effectively?

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at a conference in June. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Undoubtedly everyone wants to be heard, it’s a facet of human nature. But are we killing the art of communication? Are we taking the human aspect out of it by so blatantly ignoring the phone call? Can words on a screen replace the crinkling of the phone line as stories are exchanged, or the changes in octaves that come before or after a laugh? Does the need to be in control of every syllable, every sound we make come before the need for real human contact?

And maybe the real question is, are we really that busy? Or do we just think we are?

As written for SB.TV


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