The use of online connecting as a platform for communication has increased in the last two decades. The shift from face-to-face communication to online chatting has changed the human way of life. Compared to a few decades ago, today people are more connected to various online platforms. Social networks, for instance, have enabled people to be in touch no matter where they are. The ability to be in contact with a person from miles away is a fantastic invention that should be celebrated.
Social networks have allowed human beings to share real-time information from all over the world, and this is an achievement rather than a setback. This paper seeks to argue that online connecting does not affect our ability to hold face-to-face conversations.
Prevalence of online connecting
The prevalence of social networks among the young and the older generation is undeniably amazing. Although there is much skepticism about this issue, the spread of whom is still increasing. Currently, most people are connecting with friends and colleagues through various online platforms. To measure the prevalence of online connecting, one can judge by the success of social network companies such as Facebook and tweeter. Young people, for instance, are interested in meeting new people, talking about things that interest them, and having fun (Keller and Fay par. 6).
During teenage life and early twenties, most of the activities that people do are not things that interest them. At this stage, people are studying which is a requirement for all regardless of whether one likes it or not. This is why social networks are growing in popularity because people want to control their environment and do what they feel they want to do (Keller and Fay par. 6). Social networks are giving young people the power to choose whom to talk to at any given time.
Reasons why online communication is not a threat to face-to-face
Although some people feel like the current use of online communication platforms can wipe out the conservative face-to-face mode of communication, this fear is implausible. Research has shown that even with the evident rise in the use of social networks among people across all age groups, face-to-face conversations are not hindered in any way. Keller and Fay argue that 75% of the total conversations in America are done face-to-face (par. 6). According to the research, only 10% of the entire conversations in America are done online (Keller and Fay par. 6).
Depending on the angle we look at it, online conversations are not in any way inhibiting our ability to converse. Keller and Fay assert “The Internet has provided powerful new ways to interact with people, even as we remain physically isolated” (par. 4). First and foremost, conversations are envisaged in the mind before they are uttered. For this reason, the mode of sharing one’s ideas is not the problem. The real issue is whether a person is capable of creating ideas, and he or she can hold a meaningful conversation whether online or face-to-face. Secondly, face-to-face conversations have their place in society. There are subjects and issues that cannot be discussed over the phone or in a chat session on the internet.
In addition, there are particular groups of people in our lives that we have to talk to in person for instance parents, teachers and other respectable people in our lives. For this reason, it is apparent that this is just a new way of doing things but it is not a replacement for the existing ways. Just like fashion, there are certain clothes that can be pretense in an office, in church, and at college parties. These are different settings, and the mode of dressing is also different. In communication, online connecting can be equated to a new fashion or trend in communication. It does not inhibit, but it enhances the existing mode of communication.
Although people prefer to stay alone behind the screens, they are interacting with a group of people on Facebook and other social networks. Keller and Fay argue that this has brought division in the family unit (par.7). Social networks have been blamed for negatively impacting the behaviors of young people. It is assumed that due to the limited or lack of social interaction through face-to-face conversations, young people have lost the skills to speak their minds when confronted face-to-face.
The lonely lifestyles, as assumed by social networks critic, are greatly inhibiting young people’s ability to hold a conversation when the occasion demands. Failure in job interviews has also been attributed to social networks since it apparently reduces an individual’s confidence (Solove 342). Other issues arising from social networks include the ease of lying and pretense and the invasion of privacy. Privacy is a fundamental right and should not be violated. Online connecting leaves many loopholes for invasion of private space. Solove confirms this when he says that “everybody probably has something to hide from somebody” (342).
I agree with the above concerns about the negative implications of online connecting. However, I still believe self-esteem is also responsible for one’s ability to converse. In previous ages when the internet and mobile phones were not so common, people used to converse face-to-face. However, even then, there were still individuals suffering from self-esteem issues. In fact, people then were more primitive as compared to now. Consequently, bullying was more severe and rampant. One of the most dominant causes of intimidation that can inhibit the ability to converse face-to-face is bullying.
Johnson proves this assertion when he says “My primary influence was being a kid who was bullied and didn’t know how to deal with it effectively” (par. 3). He argues that social networks can be a great platform for students who face such issues in school, and they do not know how to respond (Johnson par.3). While most people are so worried about the negative implications that online-connecting presents, there is a myriad of great opportunities and advantages within that should not be undermined. Turkle asserts “the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are” (par. 3).
In essence, the art of face-to-face conversation is not in any way threatened by the existence of other forms of communication. We should embrace technology and appreciate change. The current technological advancement has only offered humanity options, and this has diversified the way we relate and interact with each other. There is no cause for alarm because the innovations are even making life better and communication easier.
Johnson, Chandra. Face time vs. screen time: The technological impact on communication. 2014. Web.
Keller, Ed, and Brad Fay. Column: Facebook can’t replace face-to-face conversation. 2012. Web.
Turkle, Sherry. The Flight from Conversation. 2012. Web.
Solove, Daniel. Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 2011.