New Communication Technologies Are Having an Adverse Effect on the Way We Communicate

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Communication is the “exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behaviour”, while technology is defined as “A body of knowledge used to create tools, develop skills, and extract or collect materials” – taken from Since the emergence of new technologies, conventional face-to-face interaction, while not yet obsolete, has been replaced by mobile technology and communication via the Internet as the most common form of communication in our global society. While on the surface communicating via technology is cheap, instant and convenient, our reliance on it, is clearly posing serious concerns about the way that we communicate through the written and spoken word in the English language. As communication methods change rapidly on both an individual and societal level, I intend to explore the suggestion that it may have an adverse effect on the way we communicate.

A study conducted by Pew Internet and American Life Project (Dec 2007), found that although teenagers have access to multiple forms of communication, only 35 percent listed ‘personal human interaction’ as an everyday means of communication. The leading means of communication included SMS and Instant Messaging, with 60 percent and 54 percent of teens, respectively, stating them as their primary means of communication. As technologies advance, so do our means of communicating. The reasons behind the increased dependence are many. Benefits such as low costs and convenience are not the only factors that influence our choice to use SMS, IM, Chat Rooms and E-Mail. The mentioned forms act as a ‘silent’ form of communication, as we are no longer are users worried about others overhearing the conversation.

As the result of a sense of anonymity, communication via these methods also allows us to express thoughts, opinions and ideas, that we would not, say face-to-face. In the global community, these communication tools do not interfere with our busy lives. Time no longer has to be spent visiting or stopping to chat, there is no longer the restriction of having to commit to just one person, and we can send image, audio and video files to enhance how we communicate, very simply. SMS, Instant Messaging, Chat rooms and E-Mail, are essentially the “biggest socializing phenomenon we have ever seen. It can bring everyone all over the world together almost instantly. This is something that people of one hundred years ago never dreamed would ever be possible.” (Klar, D.) At this same time, people of one hundred years ago never dreamed that we as the human race, would slowly progress to the point where face-to-face contact seemed so obsolete. There are those that prefer the personal ‘essence’, but among all this technology, it no longer appears necessary that we have to be in the presence of others to communicate. A wide body of research shows that personal human interaction is essential. Australian Researchers carried out a 10-year study of the influence of social relationships on adults, and concluded “good, varied social relations are more likely to increase their life expectancy than those who are isolated or only have family relationships”. (NHS, 2005) While the human race is a naturally social species, without personal interaction with others, building and maintaining strong relationships is no longer possible. While increased use of SMS, Instant Messaging and Chat rooms is apparent, only time will tell as to whether it has an adverse effect on the way we communicate as a social species.

New communication tools have also forced changes in the way we communicate through speech and the written word. For example, limitations in the size of text messages have caused the emergence of convenient sub-culture languages such as txt-talk, IM speak, and leet-speak. For some, it has become an example of how language is constantly changing and developing. As technology becomes embraced by younger generations, it is seen by others to...
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