Column by Michael Robbins
Robbins is a sophomore international business and finance double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Often times when we all go see our grandparents or visit people from older generations, they respond with criticisms of the younger generation. One of the biggest criticisms of our generation is the new influx of communication techniques that hinder face-to-face contact. In the olden days, which to us are a mere 20 years ago, there was no texting, no emailing, no instant message — the main way to communicate was face to face contact and telephone conversations. The human interaction has decreased in our generation, and I feel that the interaction is only going to get worse in the future due to texting, the Internet and email.
Granted, our society is much more efficient with these new modes of communication. We are able to provide faster responses, be more to the point and not have to worry about the stresses with talking to people. This is helpful for the world’s industries as a whole, but the generations in the future will not have the same skill set as generations in the past. People are relying on technology to do the talking for them just to avoid talking to people for one reason or another. This is hurting the social skills that are the basis of all human interaction. People who do this are typically not as good at talking to people in person.
For example, we have all been in that situation where you meet somebody, and you start texting them. Everything seems fine as you are talking, but those one- or two-line responses are only inhibiting your social ability. Eventually, chances are that you will start talking about the same thing over and over, and it seems to become boring to talk to that person. We have short attention spans because of this phenomenon, and texting is an ineffective means of communication. It’s easy to have misunderstandings and to misinterpret someone’s message and have situations blown out of proportion simply because someone’s text message was misconstrued.
Another minor point I want to make is that people’s inability to memorize something as simple as telephone numbers. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, you need to be able to recite a friend’s, roommate’s, police station’s number off the top of your head instead of relying so much on one’s contact list. There was once a time when stories were merely recited and done by memory. Now, people can barely remember their best friend’s phone number. That is a part of society that has died that is saddening.
Social media has also had a tremendous impact on our dissolving social abilities. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have not only revolutionized the definition of sharing things with your friends but have changed the definition of the word “friend” itself. Anymore, the word “friend” simply means that you know this person and might not mean that you even like this person. There is this sense of competition where people just want to keep on adding friends to appear more popular to others, which really makes no sense. These social networking sites also give people the chance to learn about people’s interests without even necessarily talking to that person, which gives less incentive to go out and actually meet people.
Overall, the next time you hear somebody from the older generation make a comment about how our generation is lacking social skills, it is easy to see where he or she is getting that idea. One day we will be those old people, and it would be really sad to see the younger generation being even worse socially than we are.