Hindrance to Effective Communication
New technology such as smart phones should be a great asset and a powerful aid to helping us work more efficiently. We can respond to urgent emails on the go, refer to useful websites and look up quick facts.
However, these gadgets, as well helping us, can also prove to be a hindrance providing information overload and constant interruptions. We receive so many emails and are exposed to so much information that it can be hard to distil what is actually important and what isn’t. We fill our brains with clutter and lose the ability to focus on our priorities and spend our time responding to trivial emails. We think we are multi-tasking but actually we are becoming less productive.
We read each email but don’t always process the information we need. As a result, we risk irritating the sender by asking them to remind us what they said or to send the email again. More worryingly, we allow ourselves to be distracted from more important tasks by the seeming urgency of each email that comes in.
This information overload doesn’t only impact the way we process information ourselves but can also have a negative impact on the way others perceive us. It is all too easy to give the impression that you are not listening to the other person. It can be quite obvious even on the telephone that you are distracted by your inbox rather than giving the speaker your full attention. In a face-to-face meeting, of course, it is only too apparent when the person you are talking to is distracted by their smart phone rather than focusing on the content of the meeting.
In the past several years, texting and instant messaging have become phenomena that few of us have been able to escape. Though most popular with the younger generations, it is becoming increasingly common to see people of all ages absorbed in silent conversations on their cell phones. The availability of constant, instant communication makes many people feel connected to their friends in ways they never were before. But do these printed messages and instant responses help or hinder us socially?
The instant messaging fad brought abbreviations such as "LOL" (Laugh Out Loud) and "BRB" (Be Right Back) into our language as commonly accepted "words." The younger generations chatted happily in this new "language" while everyone else struggled to understand what "BTW" (By the Way) and "IDK" (I Don't Know) meant. This phenomenon spread over into texting as children as young as five received the latest models of cell phones to communicate with their friends and family.
Though everyone with a cell phone is clearly well-connected to other people, the question remains whether engaging in such constant, abbreviated communication is a help or a hindrance in personal relationship skills. Over the past decade there has been a dramatic difference in the attitudes and communication styles of the younger generations, but how much of this change has been compounded by the lack of face to face communication advocated by the texting craze?
There is no way to tell for certain whether texting and instant messaging have actually caused the breakdown of one-on-one, face-to-face communication with people, but I believe it has not helped. Instead of using cell phones as a mere communication tool, many young people view them as a necessity they could not possibly live without. We have all seen people glued to their phones, their fingers flying over the keys as they stand in line at the store, or are walk down the mall, and even frighteningly enough, while they are driving. In one case, a pair of girls walking together in the mall admitted that they were texting each other! I have even been engaged in a conversation with someone when they whipped out their phone to send a text message to someone else!
Is this the kind of society we are encouraging by allowing young people to be so dependent on their...
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