Communication has greatly evolved over time; from sending messengers like Marathon who ran miles, blowing horns, sending telegrams and letters by post, using radio announcements to landlines and so much more. Today we are just a click away from communication on reliably portable devices such as smartphones.
You would think this would mean we are more connected to each other in this century than ever before but we are instead growing distant and depressed. When was the last time you actually dedicated time to discussing something constructive with another person without checking another app or news or something fighting for your attention?
The level of concentration has lowered so much that a recent marketing study by Facebook to represent a sample space of more than 2 million Americans showed that, 80 – 90% of them use their phones when they are watching TV and almost totally fully when a commercial comes on with exception of a few who get to check on an ongoing task such as cooking.
To some this doesn’t seem like a real problem yet because they probably don’t see the much-needed physical contact anyway, but even in corporate dynamics or business there is a significant contribution by non-verbal communication such as reading body language to help understand one’s employees. Might this be why some companies are slowly erasing away their virtual/remote offices?
In the past when devices were still the size of a brick and uninteresting, the internet was a luxury and still unexplored; we weren’t connected on a global or larger regional scale but we spent a lot of time talking to each other or coming up with creative ways to engage.
For instance, I would like to think this is why we had a great number of people who participated in sports such as football, pastimes like beer pong and played at least a board game like Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders. 20 years from now, these may be classics and I hope we won’t be watching pro video gamers play a recorded football tournament on TV.
College and high school were probably great experiences too because the students and teachers had each other’s attention or focus. Yes, bullying existed, but I am yet to ascertain whether it is on the same grand scale that has been caused by digital media today where a group text can take a life.
We are slowly ushering in a generation of introverts who despise social interaction and public gatherings but prefer online popularity with its attention, virtual friends and online dating. I don’t oppose either of these but they might need to integrate something similar to what Pokemon Go did.
When we are bored we simply grab a phone and scroll through the gallery or take a selfie, or post a snapchat or play candy crush. When the internet is down or extremely slow, you feel like life has been sucked out of you and have no idea what to do with yourself. Isn’t this a similar trait to addiction?
The good news though is, this has probably already been realized by numerous institutions such as universities and research centers and they are experimenting with new ways to involve students with physical communication. Sadly, there are also several videos and articles plus full training packages to give students an idea on how to be more interactive, how to pass interviews and how to make people like you.
When we were younger, we grew up knowing most of the basics. We were brave enough to speak up or ask people what we wanted to know, we would come up with cheesy lines or strange excuses just to say hi to that hot girl or guy.
What happened and if we can’t adapt how will things be in future generations?
Lawk is a mozillian, writes for Spur, Newslibre and consults part time for Every1Mobile and Innovware.
He loves open source, the open web, writing, reading and developing literacy tools that can teach the youth around the world especially in East Africa.