Making a Case for Face-to-Face


In a recent USA Today article, Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, expressed his views on how technology would influence the world 30 years from now. What was surprising was that he felt that the future was all about the past. Yes, this is the same man that changed the world of communication and caused me to think and speak in hashtags. #Crazy!

Although he suggests looking to the past, he does foresee that “personal technology will infuse nearly every facet of American consumer life. The impact will be so far and wide that it might be taken for granted as daily life.”

This is when a light bulb went off in my head. As technology changes the way we share information, are we forgetting how to use the original communication tool – our voices? Is face-to-face communication becoming a thing of the past?

Take for instance, a ride on an elevator. Instead of a delightful good morning, I’m often greeted with the click-clacking of texting by one individual and the barely audible sound of the music coming from the headphones of another. I am lucky to even receive a nod of acknowledgement.

Cell phones are banned in New York City schools, but the dependence on technology is also so strong that some teens are paying to have their cell phones stored while in school. On a recent airing of Morning Edition on NPR, they discussed how entrepreneurs are parking trucks near schools and charging a dollar a day to store cell phones. Students can’t bear to part with their device on the way to school, so they simply pay to store it until the end of the day. Addicted much?

The effects of technology – more specifically social media – have also made their way into the office. Human resources managers are encountering more and more applicants who lack fundamental face-to-face interpersonal skills. Daniela Sierra, human resources manager at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, recently told the Orlando Sentinel that she finds only one in 10 applicants suitable for employment.

With the addition of various modes of communication, we are failing to properly develop face-to-face interactions. When we speak to each other in person, there are many factors that influence the conversation. Words make up only approximately 20% of human communication, while body language makes up for the other 80%. Email, text messages, tweets and Facebook statuses all lack tone, pitch and body language.

I can’t predict how the world will be in 30 years, but I do know that we need to create a balance with the tools that we use for communication. As a millennial, I remember a time before Facebook and as I’ve experienced the many technological advances over the last decade, I myself am still adapting. I stop texting and give proper eye contact when conversing with someone; I refrain from tweeting my every move in life; and I attempt to say good morning in the elevator, minus my electronic leash. And as technology and social media continue to grow, I will continue to make a case for face-to-face.

Photo credit: Jhaymesisvip


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