COLUMN: Is society’s dependence on instant communication worth social repercussions?

In a world that is constantly evolving on a technological basis, people often experience a sense of dependency. Is this a toxic relationship?

Sofi Zeman is a first-year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about interpersonal growth and interaction.

In today’s social climate, it seems that having the convenience of technological communication is all the rage. We live in a society that is entirely dependant on the use of mobile communication. At the click of a button, the world is becoming progressively smaller every day by connecting people from every corner of the globe. While instant messaging has evident social gains, it is also paired with various drawbacks. Is instant communication making us less personal, and are these social costs worth the rewards?

A vast majority of U.S. citizens have some form of access to a phone or mobile device. Despite being given an outlet to talk with others, people with cellphones choose to do the opposite. These days, we often opt out of both in-person and phone call conversations due to the presence of instant messaging. Each day, people choose to text rather than engage in person-to-person conversation. Though admittedly convenient, the fact that people actively decide to pass on human interaction is cause for concern.

While it was initially believed that this lack of social desire primarily impacted teens, this applies to phone users of all ages. We’ve all seen it. In social settings, many sit on their phones instead of interacting with each other. We watch videos of exciting milestones, rather than being a part of them.

Nearly everyone has met that person who attends events solely for pictures to post, rather than the actual experience. For some reason, people these days want to communicate and share their experiences with with everyone – except for whom they’re actually with while it's happening. The concept of living in the moment and recording an entire concert are mutually exclusive.

Additionally, communicating via text or online gives us confidence that many human beings simply do not possess. Whether this can work to a person’s advantage or downfall can vary. Many act completely different online than they do in person. Not having time to form a calculated response can make a person seem more awkward than they behave over the phone. As a result, this has the potential to make us less inclined to engage in interpersonal contact.

This has been proven multiple times via online dating stories. On MTV’s “Catfish,” a show where online relationships are tested in the real world, many have claimed they held off meeting their partner in person because they weren’t sure their partner would be interested in them. Even those who were the person they claimed to be on screen feared their partner’s rejection after getting to know their everyday behavior as compared to the way they speak and appear via text.

Of course, it’s undeniable that the use of instant communication is vital to the progression and success of mankind. It is through this platform that foreign relations, business connections and important bonds are formed. The world we live in now would not be able to properly function on its own if all mobile devices disappeared in a single day. While these social drawbacks are significant, there is no way the world is going to move backward to correct them.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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