What this Blog is all about

Hello everyone! This blog is in dedication to the irony between technology and communication. With technology there have come many ways to interact with people, to reach out to them. However, it is ironic that with all these new forms of technology, humans interact on a personal level less frequently. We are more apt to send a text message than make a phone call. It is much easier to email someone than actually going to see them. In this blog, I will introduce new ways that technology has allowed us to communicate with others but also show the effects technology has had on society concerning personal interaction with other people. It will be a combination of articles and some of my personal observations.

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t think the irony of my project and this blog is lost on me either. I wouldn’t be able to reach all of you without internet and blog services! I’m not saying that technology is bad; this is simply a journey into irony. So let’s get to trekking!


Let me Google that for you


I found a rather thought provoking article on The New York Times recently entitled “Disruptions: Digital Era Redefining Etiquette” by Nick Bilton. This article introduces the idea that if someone asks you a question that can be looked up on the internet, then they are wasting your time by asking. For example, if someone asks you what the weather is supposed to be like tomorrow. To some, asking that question is considered annoying. They may straight out tell you “Look it up on the internet!” Perhaps if you asked this question over text, your friend may respond to you with “lmgtfy” like Bilton personally experienced. “Lmgtfy” stands for “let me Google that for you.”

Bilton says in his article “In the age of smartphone, there is no reason to ask once-acceptable questions: the weather forecast, a business phone number, a store’s hours.”

I get it. I do. It is annoying to play “researcher” for someone and look up the weather when they are fully capable of doing so but at the same time, this attitude towards these questions could spread into other communication. For example, the article says that saying “hello” when starting a conversation or saying “goodbye” when talking on the phone is starting to be considered a hassle to listen to. Personally, I feel a little miffed and awkward when a person is done talking to me on the phone and simply hangs up. Did I make them mad? Did they get disconnected? What if I wanted to say something more?

“I have decreasing amounts of tolerance for unnecessary communication because it is a burden and a cost. It’s almost too easy to not think before we express ourselves because expression is so cheap, yet it often costs the receiver more,” said Baratunde Thurston in the article.

People consider that this communication is useless or time consuming. A simple “hello.” What’s next?


“Fingered Speech”

While many think that texting and other new forms of communication are eating away at the English language, John McWhorter disagrees, especially with texting. Many think that “text talk” which would include abbreviations, short hand, and such are teaching people how NOT to spell. They think that “text talk” is leaking into other forms of communication like resumes and papers for school – places where it should never appear.

However, in a blog post by Jessica Gross on TEDTalks, McWhorter says that texting is “redefining the way we communicate with each other – for the better.” McWhorter says that people should think of texting as “fingered speech.” According to McWhorter, thinking of it as speech makes the grammatical errors seem miniscule and unimportant. He goes on to discuss how “text talk” has evolved our language as a whole. For example, he talks about “lol.” When it originally started circulating it simply meant “laugh out loud.” Now though, McWhorter says that it has evolved to show “empathy and accommodation.” Other examples are mentioned in the article as well and if you have time to watch the video, I would recommend it because his viewpoint is really interesting.

While I can see the merit in “text talk,” I still feel that boundaries need to be drawn as to where it can be used and where it cannot be used. I don’t think abbreviations should be found in resumes, school papers or the like. If you want to talk to your friends like that, that’s fine. However, I personally think that “text talk” has taught bad grammar and misspellings that are hard to correct. I text how I talk – grammatically correct. I think of it as practice for when I write other things. I think that some people get into the habit and continue to do it outside of texting.


Technology and New Postures

I know I said that my blog would be dedicated to how technology has changed the way that we communicate with each other, but I think that this article is too interesting to not post. So not only has technology changed the way that we communicate with each other, but it has even changed the way that we sit!

In the article “9 New Ways to Sit in the Office, Thanks to Smartphones and Tablets” by Megan Garber from The Atlantic, multiple pictures are shown of the postures that people normally take up when they are working with technology. I think when you look through the pictures; you will recognize the vast majority of them. (As I am writing this, I am somewhat in “the take it in” pose.) However, the article goes on to say that these new sitting positions we are now taking up are not good for us. Which, I think anyone that has been in one of these positions for an extended period of time can attest that their back usually hurts afterwards.

It isn’t just bad posture though. It is the chairs that we are sitting in. According to the article,

Aeron Chair in an office.

Aeron Chair in an office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

chairs are not designed to support us in these positions and that is why we feel the aches and pains. However, we are not destined to sit in misery forever. Companies are now designing chairs that would better support these positions. (You can see some of the designs by following the links in the article.)

I just thought this was an interesting article because I never really considered that tablets and smartphones could change the way that chairs are designed. It is an interesting side effect that I wanted to share with you all.


Corning: A Day Made of Glass

If you haven’t seen this video before, you are missing out. “A Day Made of Glass” by Corning is awe-inspiring. It is simply amazing what glass may be able to do in the future. However, while there are many amazing things in this video, let’s focus on the communication aspects.

Video conferencing is sort of old news; however, imagine being able to take the video of grandma and sliding it on the kitchen counter so your kids can flip her around and talk to her! Let’s hope grandma doesn’t get dizzy! Imagine being able to text someone through your bathroom mirror while you are brushing your teeth! Granted, now we could just take our cell with us but this would allow us to communicate with our mirror; we wouldn’t even need to have our cell with us.

There is also an extended version of this video where Corning talks about how far out this technology is and what aspects of it are already found today. They are both interesting technology wise and the communication aspects are pretty intriguing as well.



Braver behind a Screen

It is now time for a personal experience that I promised in the initial blog post. It is probably more like a generalization than anything but it is worth mentioning. You all can give me your thoughts afterwards if you feel like it.

One of the things that bugs me about texting, emails, social media, and the like is that often times people say things on there that they wouldn’t normally say out loud. It is like people grow braver behind their screens. Have you ever met someone that was completely different behind social media and texting than they were in real life? Or do their social media pages give a different impression of them than you would get if you met them in person?

Being behind a screen doesn’t mean that a person gets to change who they are; typing words is just the same as saying them.

“Real” Communication

Hello everyone,

This post backs up what I was saying about how people become braver behind computer screens, texting, and social media. This may feel a bit repetitive but this article brings up some good points that I did not communicate in my last post.

In a Forbes article entitled “Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication?” by Susan Tardanico, the idea of authentic communication is introduced. The article cites a study that showed the “only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word” and that “93% is based on nonverbal body language.” What a person says over text or social media may not be how they are truly feeling. Their true emotions could be revealed by their body language.

Which how many times have you misread a text or email and thought that the person was mad at you? It is pretty common. It happens to me almost daily.

Tardanico goes on to question if we as humans are truly communicating with each other anymore. She says, “In an ironic twist, social media has the potential to make us less social; a surrogate for the real thing. For it to be a truly effective communication vehicle, all parties bear a responsibility to be genuine, accurate, and not allow it to replace human contact altogether.”

Now, I’m not sure that humans will quit interacting with each other. But it could happen. The article cites another study that found that the generations of Gen Y and Millennials would rather use instant messaging than stop by someone’s office and talk with them.

So what do you think? Are we really communicating with each other if the majority of communication is based on nonverbal cues? Do you think social media could ever replace human interaction?