How far we have come from writing letters with quill and ink, to the ballpoint pen, the typewriter, telegraphs, telephones, fax machines, email, and the advent and astounding growth of social media.

We now converse at the drop of a hat through miniaturized computers that we carry around in our purses or pockets that can transmit video, audio, text, or data as fast. In my 29 years, I have witnessed computing power advance from the crude floppy disk and green display of the Apple IIe to commercially available multiple terabyte hard drives, high-density data storage on CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and flash drives, along with million color digital displays that render images so perfectly that they are nearly duplicates of reality.

We update our statuses, tweet about what we’re doing and about things that interest us, and blog (guilty as charged) to share our opinions no matter how sublime or extreme.  Have we allowed electrons and digital displays to replace real communication?  Some would argue yes and some would argue no.

Has the ability to instantly communicate changed what we communicate though?  Are we losing the personal aspect of communication and replacing it with convenience and speed?  Are we losing our ownership of ourselves by postering ourselves everywhere with pin boards, photo albums, and endless streams of meaningless drivel?  Are we caricaturing ourselves for our “friends” and the world to see?

And is what you really think about something all that important that you need to broadcast it to an untold number of people? (Again, guilty as charged.)  Could it be possible that all of these technological advancements in communication technology has actually degraded our ability to communicate in the first place and replaced it with demagoguery?

Just take a look around the internet and you see derision, callousness, and viciousness on display.  It’s not that the world itself is not full of these characteristics, but that they are so readily used now by any and all, even to people that they consider friends, because they are simply off-the-cuff remarks.  Instant communication has bred the ability to respond instantly.

Even more, this problem is endemic not just between the various talking heads and opinion leaders in politics, economics and culture, but between our acquaintances and people whom we know.

The social connections we make with other people should be cherished; life is too short to continue this epidemic of distant mannered relations.  Impersonal conversation is now the norm, and our communication skills are likely to suffer.  The emphasis that we put into social networking sites is becoming so involved it’s almost comical, but also extremely damaging to our relationships.  Though our means of communication must adapt to our ever-growing technological world, it’s hard not to envy the world of a simpler past, like the one that our grandparents experienced.  Though times have changed from the white picket-fence days of yesteryear, the expansion of technology seems to be the most easily identifiable issue in today’s society. Our greatest gift, the one that sets us apart from our forefathers, looks to be coming to us at an even greater price.


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