Randomly running into an old friend while crossing a street. A phone call with a loved relative on the other side of the country. Meeting up with a group of your childhood friends. An unexpected card from an old colleague. The little unexplainable sparks from human interactions that bond us together and touch our hearts in a way that nothing else can is what communication is all about. It is about the transmission of feelings, conversing about a common point, and connecting with others. Mankind subconsciously thrives on communication from the moment we are born through cries for help and transforms into the ability to express your thoughts articulately.
From bird to email, Morris code to mobile cell phones and cavemen drawings to online blogs—communication has slowly evolved over hundreds of years and is now changing at an exceedingly rapid pace. A small quantity of sounds and words have evolved into to dictionaries filled with hundreds of thousands of words, each potentially holding multiple meanings. Not only are trendy new words being added to the dictionary such as ridic, photobomb, tweeps and lolz, but the definitions of words are also being altered such as the recent change in the meaning of literally to now also mean “not literally true”. Huh? Are you as confused as I am?
Where are we going with communication? Don’t get me wrong, I love social media as much as the next person, but do you see where we are headed as a society? We are spending more time sharing our memories with our followers than with the people we should actually be sharing the memories with. We are more focused on retaking “selfies” to look our best, than actually just trying to look our best. We think more about the funny, witty way to tweet something than the clever, amusing comment we could say to the person standing right next to us.
We are transforming, very quickly, to a race that is portrayed only as we want to be rather than how we are, hidden behind the mask of our new form of communication. The ability to wait and respond, perfectly craft what we want to say, add filters and crop photos has placed us in the perfect spot to become the fake celebrities we like to hate on TV. In a way, text communication and social sharing has enabled us all to have our own public relations manager. Ironically the additional forms of communication have enabled us to communicate less and have formed a wall and awkwardness when talking to someone face to face.
It is part of human nature to want to be liked, accepted and appealing. But when it matters how many likes you got on a picture that you retook 13 times to get just right more than enjoying the actuality of the memory you are creating, I think we may have twisted our priorities just a hair.
I know this may come off harsh, but again let me say I do love how far we have come and the ability to be instantaneously updated on the happenings in my friend’s and family’s lives from around the world. Technology is truly astounding and we are at a place we could have never even dreamed of 25 years ago. Take a second to think about if someone was removed from earth for 30 years and were brought back in 2013 and then asked you what the most amazing invention has been. I think we can all agree that the fact we have a device that can fit in our pocket that holds the answers to any questions we have, can communicate with people around the world, and let us basically do anything we want virtually is an incredible creation. WOW! It’s like magic! Cell phones are life changing as they give us the ability to answer those “I wonders” that we used to say we’d look up when we got home and would forget. It’s amazing to think how many lives have been saved because of the ability to call anyone or emergency services without a landline. And it’s astounding to think the amount of excess knowledge we have accumulated by carrying around a personal assistant.
Like all enhancements however, we must understand that there are pros and cons to all of life’s changing improvements. By having the world at our fingertips we begin to create an expectation that we are constantly accessible, and likewise we would like answers to all questions immediately. Along those lines in the realm of social media, we seek instant gratification, attention and reaction to what we post in the socialsphere. We seek higher friend and follower counts, try to top friends with likes and favorites, and hope to portray our lives as the most interesting journey God has ever blessed man with. But while getting caught up in the act, we are setting ourselves up for loneliness, rejection, and potential hits to our confidence. “Why didn’t people like this? Why hasn’t my tweet been favorited? Was I not witty enough? Did people judge my snapchat? Did I use vine “right”?”
Through these doubts and time spent worrying how our cover appears we lose site of the important connections and forms of communication. We have the ability to “mask” how we really feel, spend time to craft a response perfectly and become insincere. Therefore it is difficult to distinguish real from fake and our insecurities grow and give a sense of loneliness in a world full of endless connections.
So what happens next? Do you spiral down further into more apps and social presences? Or do we hit a point that we realize enough is enough? There is a reason whether it is explainable or not that a coffee date or phone call can touch a place in our soul and lift our spirits while an email or text can only give a small percentage of that feeling.
I can only hope that we try not to be a book judged by our cover, that we feed the soul by nurturing the quality relationships over the quantity of relationships we try to manage, and that we treasure the actual more than the virtual.