Technology has changed the way we communicate

Stephanie Gonyou

My favorite thing about new technology is the ability to get a hold of anyone anywhere, anytime. Other people’s favorite thing about new technology: their ability to ignore me anywhere, anytime.

Just about every day when I sit down to find my texting prey for the day, I usually end up texting two or three people, assuming at least one of them won’t be working and might be able to keep me company for a few hours. Do I get any texts back? Maybe, but it’ll end up being four or five hours after the fact when I’m already asleep.

Emailing isn’t any better. Historically, only one out of ten emails I send gets answered. I have had email addresses for the last eight years, and each year it becomes more and more likely I’ll get completely shut out. As online friend-sites have gained popularity, email systems have gotten shelved.

Technology has given people too much power. We all know how it feels to be asked in person to go to a movie with someone – you almost feel like you have to say yes otherwise you’ll be the jerk who said no to a potentially great time. When you get asked you have no idea whether or not you’re going to be miserable, but you at least give them a shot.

If they were to ask you via text and you were even the slightest bit unsure whether you want to actually go, the poor sap would most likely get rejected, possibly by getting no answer whatsoever. Technology makes that rejection less painful for the heart-breaker, but leaves the heart-broken unfairly rejected before the race even begun, without even a respectful “no thanks.”

A study done by the Journal of Information Technology said, “In June of 2008, 75 billion text messages were sent in the U.S. alone … In late 2007, the number of text messages had surpassed the number of phone calls and this differential has continued to increase.”

Text messaging has taken precedence over almost every other form of communication. People have changed their preferences about communication to lean toward texting for many reasons, the most obvious being convenience. Second, freedom.

Before texting, email and Facebook, people actually had to call a landline phone, speak to a real live human and work out plans verbally. Nowadays, most organization is done in type, devoid of any emotion – be it excitement, dread or even fear – leaving everyone guessing, catering text to their needs to get the desired result.

Whether that result being the rejected thinking, “she must not have answered because she had other plans,” or the friend being asked about their vacation thinking, “they don’t really want to know, they’re just bored, they don’t need an answer,” every person can interpret the non-verbal response however they choose. Still, no matter how someone reacts to a text message, or lack thereof, the ability to text is unbelievably powerful.

The same study by the Journal of Information Technology said, “Cell phones and computers have become essential to the average American teenager’s social life, and the average American teen spends four hours per day interfacing with some sort of device … people age 14 to 29 would rather give up their relationship partner than their cell phone—by a 2-to-1 margin.”

Texting has changed the way we communicate, react to people, socialize and carry out our everyday lives.  Emotions are very easy to toy with when there is no context as a backdrop.

Rejection and alienation is a likely result when people get ignored –– or deemed less important by their significant other who’d choose their cell phone over their partner –– which is obviously not the best case scenario.

People as a whole need to learn technological etiquette, including ways to be respectful to everyone the same way we were taught to be nice to all our classmates in elementary school.