A commercial featuring celebrity Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard for Samsung tablet show the couple through a day of their life, engaged continually with their gadgets, even when they are sitting in front of one another. They avoid many social events to watch a film in their gadget and connect with one another through the device from different rooms in their house. Though unintentionally, but the advertisement shows how electronic communication impairs face-to-face interaction.
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Proponents of electronic communication contend that it has increased connectedness and removed the distance created by time and space, creating an indispensable medium of communication. Nevertheless, its socio-psychological effect on man raises questions concerning its effectiveness as a means of communication. It is like an addiction of the modern age to fight loneliness, thereby, making lonelier souls. I believe direct human interaction is better than electronic communication. In this essay, I argue that electronic communication removes emotional complexities of human interaction, sterilizes human senses essential for man-to-man interaction, and creates island human beings.
What is communication? Is it just an exchange of meaningful words, as is done over emails or SMS? Communication is a meaningful expression of various emotional cues, articulated with or without words or in combination of the two. I believe electronic communication is incomplete as it fails to deliver the emotional quotient of a human interaction. Conversation entails not only the spoken words but also the emotions hidden behind the words.
When we communicate, our senses work together in order to receive signals from the other, generate mirror neurons in response, and reciprocate accordingly (Wagner 115). For example, when one complains of the trouble at work to a face-to-face conversation with a friend, the latter can relate to the former’s anxiety and anger not only because of the words she speaks, but also from her body language. However, if the same message was shared through an SMS, the feelings are foregone, thus producing little or no empathy from the receiver. Thus, the communication remains incomplete.
Electronic communications create a delusional reality. Incessant use of video games, mobile phones, computers, or social media alienates one from the real world. For instance, Facebook is a medium to communicate and interact. Some think that it is a potent means to make new friends. On the contrary, it builds relationships based on falsehoods (Wagner 118). A woman posts a picture that shows her as a slim, beautiful woman but actually, she proves to be an overweight person.
She fantasizes herself as that online avatar and engages in a relationship with others through the social medium. Clearly, this woman is unsatisfied with her body image, and it may have damaged her relationships in the real world. When she gets a new medium that gives her the freedom to create a new self, a new identity, she eagerly embraces it. Thus, she creates her own unrealities and communicates them to others. This communication is basically false. Therefore, social media actually manipulates our fears and anxieties to push us to accept and project lies.
Electronic communication has the potential to control and manipulate the worst fears and anxieties of man. Loneliness is endemic in the modern world. People, who are introverted, often lack social skills to engage in communication with others (Kang and Munoz 205). Electronic communication is an easy medium for those who lack social skills to participate and engage in online conversations.
This is so because real life communication has a lot of pressure on the people who lack social skills and they constantly make efforts to meet those demands. They are aware of their shortcomings and fear connecting in real life. Such people are usually loners as inadequate social skills ostracize them from society. However, electronic communication obliterates these incompetencies. It provides a medium for such people to communicate without fear of being judged (“Does Facebook make you lonely?” par. 6). This induces such people to engage more in online social media as it gives them a new platform to remove their social anxieties.
Thus, social media removes fear from people who were otherwise loners. Apparently, electronic media helped a person to overcome his fear of communication. However, did this makeover transpose to the real life or was it confined to the virtual world? Ideally, when an introvert person gains confidence in his communication skills in the virtual world, it should also show in the real world. However, in reality this does not occur. A loner becomes lonelier as his detachment with the real life, due to his growing online engagements, increases (“Does Facebook make you lonely?” par. 15).
Electronic communication is an ineffective medium of interaction as it fails to deliver the whole message as essential emotions are discarded. Electronic communications are just words. There are no emotions, no senses, no compassion attached to it. In addition, it preys on the loneliness of people and entices them into a fantastic world of lies and deceit. In the end, it completely strips a man’s social communication skills and draws him into the quagmire of loneliness, making him an island.
“Does Facebook make you lonely?” 2014. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Web.
Kang, Sun-Mee and Martha J. Munoz. “Preference for Online Communication and Its Association with Perceived Social Skills.” Individual Differences Research 12.4 (2014): 198-208. Print.
Wagner, Lori Ann. “When Your Smartphone Is Too Smart for Your Own Good: How Social Media Alters Human Relationships.” The Journal of Individual Psychology 71.2 (2015): 114-121. Print.