Summer Le, Campus Carrier digital media editor

As I continue living in a fast-paced society where primary communication occurs online, I feel like I have traded quality conversations for quantity nowadays. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate the conveniency of being able to send a simple text or direct message to someone. Social media can be a great way to catch a glimpse of what someone else might be thinking or doing with their life. I am not trying to cancel the internet or technology. With that being said, I think it would be nice to disconnect with the online world to reconnect with the real world again. Digital forms of communication seem to be overtaking the beauty of face-to-face interactions, and that is contributing to the dying art of conversation.

A message can only convey so much when it is read or received through a screen. Reading a text does not require interpretation of body cues or facial expressions. In a way, I believe there is a limiting sense of closeness to others because of the absence of their physical presence. The little doses of instant gratification, validation and dopamine has created a false sense of social fulfillment for many.  

            Not all online interactions are necessarily live and because of that, people tend to rehearse their responses more since they can respond on their own time. I would say it inhibits the quality of conversations being held because exchanges are being sent and received at different times. The most memorable conversations throughout my lifetime have always occurred when two or more people all choose to be present at the same time. I find it easier to fall back on surface level conversations when it does not seem like anyone is currently listening on the other line. Progression occurs more when there is active dialogue. Conversations tend to die off quicker and can seem a bit repetitive when it does not take place in person. Unless you are on a video or audio call, not many are going to feel inclined to type out everything they are feeling or doing. A person’s undivided attention might be harder to acquire through text as well when there is a possibility that the other person is navigating two or three applications simultaneously in the background. 

            People are becoming more comfortable with the idea of having a greater percent of their human interactions through the internet. This might sound like the perfect utopia for some; however, I personally fear that it will take away from a human experience that is invaluable. Interpersonal skills are not being practiced as frequently anymore because of modern technology. As a result of this, I believe that it is harder for people to gain a sense of belonging in communities now. Communal spaces offer great opportunities for bonds to be formed. Do not undermine the experience of running into an old high school friend at the grocery store. Even a short conversation with the bus driver can hold significance. Being a part of a community means knowing the group of people that surrounds you. Discussions must take place for you to feel connected to others. Strong communities build on the foundation of unity and dialogue.

            While connections might be easier to find online, I believe the cost of it is isolation. Not only is this affecting the relationships we create with our local neighbors, but it is also affecting the romantic relationships we create. With the accessibility to contact multiple people at once, it is not rare that people will juggle several conversations at a time. One of the focuses for dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge is to curate as many matches as possible. They hope to keep users swiping by showing tons of potential people that might fit into the user’s criteria. Matches do not necessarily guarantee any interactions between both people. Even if there are, as I have mentioned before, many conversations seem to lack active engagement since it takes days in between to simply exchange questions about favorite foods and hobbies. After one dies out, people go back to either swiping or entertaining many other conversations that might inevitably have the same ending as the first. These apps can make people feel disposable and rejected. People are less inclined to put in effort to build the conversations that they currently have. If conversations are not leaving the screens, it is harder to cultivate the safe spaces required for people to truly be themselves to form those deeper connections. Intimacy requires more than simply reading and understanding another person. It is the eye contact, the non-verbal cues, and undivided attention that occurs through face-to-face interactions that flourishes romantic relationships.

            Conversations in the media have dynamically changed over the past decade as well. People have the means to become more aware about what is going on at a state, national and even worldwide scale. This can spark great change and evolution in our existing systems. More resources are available for those that seek help or for those that seek ways to help. My only concern is how the media might divide people. With the existing cancel culture and labels that are thrown around so easily, it can be intimidating to step into conversations knowing that people are more prepared to prove their point than they are to listen. Social pressure might also push someone to speak up on something out of fear than their genuine passion for the topic at hand. Dialogues are not synonymous to debates, and there is more room to misinterpret someone when you cannot evaluate their tone of voice or personality. Quality conversations are not defined by how the number of times you have been correct or change your mind. It’s when people can leave a discussion knowing they were both respected and heard. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

Leave a Reply