TO CELEBRATE FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION IN A DIGITAL AGE
Why is this so important?
HOW A MESSAGE IS COMMUNICATED
"It is in [face-to-face] conversation where we learn to make eye contact, to become aware of another person's posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another" (1).
The way in which Americans communicate has changed more in the past 20 years than any time in human history. These changes have led to exciting leaps in human productivity. The digital age has facilitated fast, reliable, and cheap communication.
But how much has this explosion of digital communication affected our ability to interact face-to-face with our neighbors, friends, family, and other strangers we meet in everyday life?
Well, the answer is, quite a lot. More than we realize. Research shows how technological progress has changed daily communication on an individual and communal level.
Fundamentally, digital communication allows us to efficiently send and receive information, but this conversational style can degenerate into a mere transaction of data. In defense of face-to-face conversation, research suggests that we learn social skills and fulfill basic human needs when we speak in the immediate presence of another.
Let's be more specific.
Here is why we need to take action...
CHANGE IN EMPATHY
University of Michigan, 2010 (1).
Face-to-face conversations help humans develop patienceand empathy (1).Sherry Turkle illustrates that "Face-to-face conversation unfolds slowly"; and that it therefore "teaches patience" (3). Professor Frank Partnoy claims that children who learn to wait at a young age gain improved social skills, higher levels of empathy, a better ability to resolve conflict, and an ultimately happier disposition (4).
We cannot place all the blame on technology, but we must question how the proliferation of instant communication since 2000 has affected human interactions and social relationships. Interacting with another person is a critical life skill, one that everyone ought to develop. In the office and at home, in friendships and families, when teaching and learning, we all need to communicate effectively.