We were recently directed to Text, Tweet, or Talk: Communication for Today, a newly launched blog written by Michele Davis, an undergraduate student and friend of Cutter. Michele is exploring trends in interpersonal communication and what effects these trends have on society. She’s specifically looking at the impact of the movement away from face-to-face/voice communication towards digital, text-based, online communication.
Michele’s way of communicating wasn’t an option when I was an undergrad, but now, even though I spend a significant portion of my time communicating online for business as well as with my friends and family, the really meaningful conversations in my life are always by phone. By contrast, Michele, who is in the 18-24 age bracket writes,
It is hard to imagine my life without the trifecta having some presence in my daily routine. But the truth is my life has not been characterized by these social networking sites for very long at all: I only joined the Facebook community a mere four years ago. I guess you could say that these sites have poked, nudged and tweeted their way into my life at lightning speed. But I am not the lone casualty in this social networking invasion. I am just one in the masses. There is no avoiding the Kool-Aid: social networking sites are changing the way we communicate with each other and inter-personal communication will never be the same.
As I was reflecting on how social networking sites have changed how I personally communicate with those around me, I realized something astonishing. I could not remember the last time I called one of my friends simply to ask them what they were up to or to see what their plans were for the night. I mean the last time I literally dialed the number and had a conversation.
If you are anything like me and my peers that I observe around me, vocal conversation is dwindling and is being quickly replaced with text messages, Facebook wall posts and iChat conversations. It seems that no longer does anyone have the desire to pick up the phone and call someone. We would rather spend 5 minutes typing up a conversation that could have been completed in a 30 second phone call. Is this because our cellular phone minutes are so few and oh-so-precious that we do not want to risk going over our minutes? I would bet no. I myself hardly pick up the phone just to have a good “chat” with someone (other than my mother, of course).
Texting can be really efficient and effective (it’s the best way I’ve come across to get a babysitter). However, as I read Michele’s Trifecta post, I couldn’t help but think about a recent phone call I had with my best friend: She told me about her dog’s tragic accident; we shared stories about our kids and husbands, our golf and tennis games, our clothing and closet woes, and we laughed until tears were streaming down our cheeks. None of this we had communicated in the half-dozen emails we had traded in the previous couple of weeks. I’m not ready to give up my phone. What about you?