By Melanie Spina
We are constantly surrounded by mediated communication today. From sharing pictures on Facebook, to posting our opinions on Twitter, to finding ourselves texting all the time, we heavily depend on these communication tools. Without smartphones, most college students would find themselves lost.
With the convergence of mobile phones and Internet into a single device, communication is made possible in ways that older generations wouldn’t even think of. This can be a positive thing, since it has allowed the world to evolve and move forward technologically, but at the same time it can have negative effects. Being able to basically do anything you want on your phone has turned many of us into addicts to these devices, which is not necessarily a good thing. People have lost the ability of hold- ing a conversation face-to-face with someone without constantly looking down at their phones.
I am not going to lie; I myself am guilty of constantly using my phone. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, texting, Snapchat, and so many more apps just take over our attention. We think we are communicating, but are we really? I like to think that we are, especially when our phones allow us to talk to friends or family that might be far away from us. But, then again, when you spend every five minutes on your phone, you’re missing out on real face-to-face communication.
There are positive benefits to communicating in person with someone that texting lacks. For example, when you talk to someone face- to-face, you are sharing the same physical context; you’re influenced by the same environmental distractions that may be occurring. You can also actually see the facial expressions and body movements of the person you’re talking to.
“I don’t think people being obsessed with their phones mean they are not communicating, since that’s basically what phones are all about,” said Kat Kazaba, a junior Public Relations major. “However, I do think people have lost the ability to hold an actual face-to-face conversation. I agree that phones have turned into a drug-like device that most people are highly addicted to.”
In some cases, phones can bring people closer together. They do allow people to strengthen their ties. In fact, a big amount of the communi- cation that takes place on social media apps on phones is mostly with friends and families. I hold the view that the more we obsess with our phones, the more individuals become lonelier because we are just con- stantly alone. We aren’t paying attention to what’s going on around us. We are in our own little world looking down at our screen. If you go out for lunch with your friends, in a matter of seconds, I can guarantee you that everyone around the table will be checking their phones to see what new thing has happened in the past five minutes.
“People just don’t put in the effort in their relationships anymore. We don’t make time for face-to-face communication,” Kazaba said. “When we communicate with our friends, family, or even co-workers, we constantly find ourselves ‘multitasking,’ sending texts and emails through our phones while we are in meetings, checking our Facebook feed while we are in class, even texting while we are eating dinner with our family,” she added.
There needs to be a moment when we take a step back and look up from our phones to realize that we have all lost our capacity to keep a real, authentic conversation going.
Finally, I do believe we are highly addicted to our phones and because of this we no longer appreciate face-to-face communication. A way this can be fixed is by taking that step back and starting to detach from these devices. When you are at social event, put your phone away and actually talk to the people around you. We must make an effort to actually communicate and have real conversations where our phones won’t be a distraction.