Face-to-face communication lost art

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I once saw human faces, but now I only see faceless robots.

That dramatic, science fiction-esque line I made up describes how I feel about advancing technology. Smartphone and tablet accessibility decreases our need (and desire) for human interaction. It’s like people are forgetting how to interact face-to-face.

According to a study by Jane Thiebaud from the Media Ecology Association, the spoken word is “in decline and at risk for disappearing.”

It concerns me how technology is replacing the verbal voice with digital voice. Both voices show power, depending on the setting, but verbal is more credible. People can’t “delete” their words after they’re spoken. 

Humans are social creatures. Although some people are more social than others, we all have an innate sense of social interaction. Technology stunts that sense. It gives people the opportunity to shut themselves away from the world, which isn’t healthy.

Now, I enjoy my downtime, but I’d go crazy if my phone was my only gateway to social interaction. I need to physically see and verbally interact with people.  

Technology acts like a wall between you and the other person. You can’t determine his or her tone of voice or mannerisms. The only thing you can do is guess the other person’s reaction, which has potential consequences.

According to an article on psychologytoday.com, there are three clear benefits of in-person communication. Firstly, a colorful exchange of ideas takes place with verbal dialogue compared to a text message or email going back and forth. Secondly, verbal messages can be as lengthy as needed without a specific word count. The final benefit is problem resolution. Problems are openly discussed without having to guess the other person’s tone or reaction.  

With that being said, sometimes in-person interaction is the only way to get things done. There have been times I’ve called or texted a person and never received a response. Was the person too busy to answer? Was I getting ignored? I waited a few days before realizing there was only one thing left to do: show up at the person’s office unannounced. I was right there in the flesh, so the person had to deal with me directly. Randomly showing up is a bold approach, but it works.

Staying glued to your phone throughout a date is an example of an interaction that doesn’t work.

It’s sad whenever I see a couple staring at their phones at a restaurant. I always wonder why they bother going out since they find their phones more interesting. Perhaps they forgot how to speak, so they’re texting each other from across the table. Perhaps they should just date their phones.

Either way, I’ll never understand it.

The next time you’re out with someone, I challenge you to stop being a faceless robot. Turn human again by putting the phone away and actually talking to people. If we all do this, then we can prevent face-to-face communication from becoming a lost art.