Technology, particularly communication technology, has advanced over the past few years through innovation and invention. The last decades have seen improvements in internet speeds and bandwidth, communication devices, and means of communication over the internet. Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp are all communication inventions introduced in the past decade that have revolutionized communication. With inventions and innovations, people can easily communicate despite their physical distance. Friends and relatives across the world are a phone call, text message, or video call away because of technology (Ellison 416). However, even though it has made human communication easier, technology has caused increased isolation and loneliness. Many people have used technology to lock themselves out, reaching out to people on their screens, while forgetting those close to them. The quality and frequency of traditional communication methods such as face-to-face interaction have dipped with increased on-screen communication. Thus the question, has technology increased or decreased human communication?
Technology has become an essential part of everyday human communication. The use of technology in communication is fast replacing traditional forms of communication such as face-to-face communication (Drago 13). The proliferation of technology is welcome as it has increased human communication. Innovations in technology, particularly the invention of social media, have increased human communication. Social media and computer-generated communities have become more popular phenomena. At the moment, Facebook about one billion active monthly users. The number makes the platform the most widely used social network platform in the world. A huge section of these are mobile phone users logging onto the platform from their smartphones on the mobile application or browsers. Online communities together with discussion boards make available a stage for users with similar interests to meet, advance, and share information, and thoughts despite the differences in physical location. The widely known state of the platforms has transformed the nature of communication. It has become easier for people to exchange ideas, connect, make friends, and advance causes through communication technology. Ideally, the change in communication intensity is attributable to technology that acts as an enabling factor.
The utmost effect of technology is on socialization through social media. At the center of social media sites such as Facebook is relinking people, mostly friends and contacts. Moreover, the technologies have increased communication through their ability to make people forge new friendships. Progress in social media have made it easier for individuals to keep informed on events around the world. Furthermore, professionals have found ingenious use of social media, using it to augment and push forward their careers through professional platforms such as LinkedIn (Ellison 416). Furthermore, social media podiums such as Tinder have been influential in aiding people to find their soulmates.
Technology, through social media, has additionally increased communication by enabling friendships and reconnections. Friends and families continually rely on technology for communication regardless of distance (Ellison 416). Even more is the fact that technology has enabled individuals to engage in causes they believe in, improve their networks and impact the society positively.
Perhaps the form of communication that has received a major hit since the advent and proliferation of modern methods of communication is face-to-face encounters. Smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and other handheld internet-connected devices continue to not only decrease the quality of face-to-face communication but also the length of such encounters. Research to find out the impact of smartphones (including social media) indicate that smartphones negatively impacted the quality of human face-to-face (Misra et al. 275). Additionally, the research shows a dip in the quality of communication in the presence of technology even among close friends. Messages, likes, status updates, and phone calls cause distraction, which compromise the quality and decrease the amount of communication.
The pervasive use of communication technology leads to isolation. Despite a large number of platforms allowing individuals to connect and communicate with others, many people remain isolated and lonely, locked in the virtual world. Technology, therefore, not only impedes face-to-face communication but also provides a crutch from which people hide (Drago 16). Such crutches decrease the levels of communication and connection among people, acting as hindrances to communication.
Phones, as openings to the virtual world, have become a deterrent to human communication. The bulk of phone users have become so immersed in the virtual world through online games, social media, and online groups to the extent of treating virtual friends better than their in-person friends. Studies looking into the impact of the online world on face-to-face communication found that while having conversations in the virtual world, students (and by extension individuals obsessed with the virtual world) readily disregard their in-person friends with a penchant for their online friends (Drago 17). The fascination and allure of the online world enabled by technology are so powerful that some users have outright relations with their mobile devices when not necessarily communicating with anyone of the phone; ideally disregarding human-to-human communication.
Drago, Emily. “The Effect of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication.” The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, vol. 6, no. 1, 2015, pp. 13-19.
Ellison, Nicole. “Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol. 11, pp. 415-441.
Misra, Shalini et al. “The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices.” Environment and Behavior, vol. 48, no. 2, 2016, pp. 275 – 298.