In today’s highly technological world, communication is no longer limited to language. The options are limitless: text messages, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram tags and DMs, Twitter, gifs, memes, emojis and even bitmojis. Instead of having to write out an extensive letter, or even travel (across the quad) to physically see your friends, you can send them a quick snap or gif in a matter of seconds. And yet, while all of these new methods of communication allow us contact others at lightning speed, we’re forced to ask ourselves a question: have we become better at communicating, or worse?
Because our methods are communicating are quick, they are also quite short. The days of SMS text messaging on your first flip phone have left us with tons of lasting acronyms and abbreviations that are pretty much universal. While touch screens have made typing easier, no one wants to send out paragraphs or complete sentences. We can send gifs instead of explaining our feelings (because they are actually so perfectly relatable), or a picture to show that something did indeed happen. In fact, social media has been leaning towards other modes of communication that hardly use language at all.
Think about it: what are we looking at most when we are on social media? We aren’t exactly reading massive paragraphs of eloquent prose – after all, that’s not really what social media is for. We want quick updates about what is going on with our friends and what is happening outside our little Bucknell bubble. Social media, and much of mass media, has adapted visual methods of communication. Because what’s a faster way to gather information than looking at a picture?
The problem is that a picture, although fast and efficient, is kind of a cop-out way to communicate. We might provide a short caption or comment to explain what the picture means, but we mostly rely on the picture to do all of the work. Unfortunately, while pictures can explain a lot, there is also a lot of room for interpretation, and by that we mean misinterpretation. Because we aren’t exactly explaining ourselves or expressing our personal, unique emotions and thoughts, we are doing ourselves a disservice. As a result, we are out of practice when it comes to real deal communications (a.k.a. those tricky ~feelings~). When we rely too much on other mediums, we lose our ability to express ourselves in authentic ways through language.
So maybe next time you’re about to ignore that phone call from your mom or a friend, think twice about how you have been conditioned to communicate. While social media is a good way to get quick information, we shouldn’t allow it to affect the area of our lives where communication is really important: our relationships.