How Has Technology Affected Communication?

Laptops, iPads, cell phones, the Internet, Google, Twitter, wifi…how has technology affected people’s ability to communicate?

Communication using technology, referred to as mediated technology is used more for business communication than any other kind, even more than the outdated form of communication called…”talking.”

As of today, 70 percent of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and over 80 percent of those are “smart” phones.

Sure, all the technological advances have many advantages. For those of you old enough to remember, there was a time when you sent ads to a “film house” to be produced or scanned and actually had to send them to the publication via snail mail or Fed-Ex. We used to have to factor in the time that it would take to rip the film and send to the pubs to meet our deadlines. Now, ads due today – no problem we will have it uploaded to the FTP in a jiffy.

Mediated technology has definitely made business communication faster and cheaper, but has it also diminished the ability to establish relationships? How many times have you read an email and misunderstood the tonality? Or how many times have e-mails crossed in cyber space? What about the dreaded “Reply All” mishaps that everyone has heard about when you intended to only reply to sender?

I remember a time when my phone (land line that is!) rang off the hook and I had conversations with clients all day long. Not so much anymore – now it is all via e-mail and texting. And when I do have a conversation with a client, 9 times out of 10 it is on my iPhone.

There was also a time when it was considered rude to bring a cell phone or computer to a meeting and now it is expected. How many of us have sat in a meeting and texted someone who is in the same meeting? Home phones…have one, can’t tell you why, what the number is, or the last time it rang.

I joke with the 20-somethings in the office that they sit at home on the couch next to their husbands/boyfriends/friends and text instead of having a conversation. One of my colleagues told me that she and her husband were sitting in their family room together the other day playing Words with Friends on their iPhones – poor Scrabble.

So, do you think mediated technology has “dumbed” us down? Shortcuts for words on Twitter such as UR, GR8, etc are the norm so tweets don’t exceed 140 characters. Messages sent from mobile phones often have typos – and strange wording thanks to auto-fill and predictive text. It’s “for,” not “fir!”

Of course there was a time when the calculator first appeared on the scene and people were concerned that it would diminish the ability to do math in one’s head. With the exception of my boss, when was the last time any of you did math in your head?

It has also been said that Socrates feared the impact writing would have on people’s ability to think. However, Einstein didn’t commit anything to memory and chose instead to write everything down.

I can’t think of a way to end this and I need to get back to work, so I think I will just Google another phase for “In Conclusion.” How about “The end”?