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Natalie Bencivenga Headshot

Has Technology Ruined Our Ability To Communicate?

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"I would love to go out with you."

"Great, I'll text you."

Oh, the three words I dread hearing -- "I'll text you."

Sure, it is a wonderful thing to be asked out on a date. But, how unromantic is it to get a text two days later that reads:

"What r u up 2?

Wana grab dinr/drinks?

Time?"

Yuck. If this is the state of communicating with a potential lover in the modern world, thanks, but I'll pass. What has happened to us? Are we all really so busy that the act of picking up a phone is just too taxing, too daunting? Don't think I am above it! I text so much my thumbs are going to fall off. It just dawned on me, however, that maybe this isn't the best way to go about building long and lasting relationships. I mean, really, can any relationship be sustained with "u busy 2nite?" I don't think so.

Texting as a form of regular communication is dangerous, because how well can one communicate via text? Sure, it's quicker than calling but because of sacrificing time for convenience, we miss the flow of conversation. The subtle nuances, the change in tone, the banter, the chase. Everything has been reduced to 130 characters, and frankly, I'm a little worried about the effect that it is having on the state of our collective consciousness. Ok, I'm really worried. 


Does this lack of intimacy and connection make us colder, more detached to one another? Even with as many people as there are on this planet, it seems as if we are more alone and isolated than ever before.

Yes, people can connect with each other in a million different ways, whether texting, skyping, Facebook-ing, or tweeting to name only a few, but there seems to be less personal connections between people. Do you really know most of the people you friend on Facebook? Who would really come help change your tire if you broke down at two in the morning from that long list of internet friends? Two, maybe three at most?

And this "quantity over quality" message which is part of our consumerist mentality is spilling over into how we look at relationships. There is no depth to any of it! I know plenty of people that have been dumped via text message, and even some that found out they were no longer in relationships when they checked their soon-to-be ex's Facebook status and it went from "in a relationship" to "single" right before their very eyes.

Because of these "easy ways out" we have forgotten what it's like to confront our issues. It's safer, more anonymous, and less stressful to just text someone when making plans or to break plans. We feel such a disconnect from one another with our cold little weapons in hand, that the sting doesn't seem to hurt as bad receiving or sending out those types of messages. It's easier to break up via email than it is to look anyone in the eye and tell them it just isn't working any more.

Confrontation is scary. Emotional confrontation is even scarier. There is nothing to hide behind, nowhere to run. Putting it all out there makes one vulnerable and sometimes it is easier to use these electronic devices as a crutch.

But, what happens when that crutch cripples you? When you don't know how to walk alone, without it? I experimented the other night by leaving my blackberry at my apartment FOR A WHOLE NIGHT and being free of my technological crutch and let me tell you, I panicked!

At first, I was scared that I was missing very important updates (which, of course, I wasn't). I was then freaking out that perhaps someone was trying to get a hold of me and couldn't (when, of course, no one was). It dawned on me when I did gather my phone later, how ridiculous I had become. This sense of self-importance was clouding my vision as to what was really important. Quality human interaction.

So, I challenge all of you tech-junkies (myself included) to start acknowledging that while it is convenient to text instead of call, Facebook instead of meet for coffee; being a part of society means interacting face-to-face, getting your hands dirty and forming genuine connections with the people around you. Only when we are vulnerable and let people into our hearts and minds can we really understand what our purpose as human beings truly is: to love and be loved. And, let's be honest. You cannot fully realize the strength of that emotion through the click-clack of keys.

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