Writer: Jayson White
Let’s face it; everybody had this type of ‘chat’ on a social networking site before. The question is: Has this become the new way of communicating? And have we lost the ability to have proper human interaction?
We find ourselves living in the information age. We spend hours of our day, texting, Tweeting and updating our Facebook statuses. From telling the world about your breakfast, to expressing how much you ‘hate your mom’ for grounding you. We can’t help but feed our curiosity of everything and everyone around us. After all, we are naturally inquisitive beings.
But does social networking really connect us? And is it destroying our ability to use language effectively? – something that has been developed over years and years? Has the ‘clicking’ sounds of the Khoi-San people evolved into the mouse and keyboard ‘clicking’ dialect, used by our advanced present-day Technosapiens?
I spoke to Dave Duarte, a digital business educator, to find out the role that social media is playing in our fast-paced lives of the 21st century.
“The assumption is that social networking is replacing conventional face-to-face communication,” He said energetically and clearly excited to divulge his extensive knowledge on the topic. “But from what I’m hearing from hundreds of groups of people, is that it’s not. They said that because they interact digitally, they are more likely to see each other face-to-face. Digital communication can help enhance those bonds.”
But what about the things that make us human? Our feelings, our emotions. Our ability to shed a tear when we are hurt, to laugh when we are happy, to smile and give thanks, even to show fear when we are afraid. A computer programme cannot give you this experience. Are we losing the essence of what makes us expressive and affectionate beings?
“I don’t see social networking as a bad thing. However, I must emphasise, that there is so much more communicated outside of text.” He throws out a statistic that only 10% of communication is spoken through actual words. The other 90% comes through our tone of voice, our physical gestures, subtle eye movements and other things that a computer cannot interpret, or represent.
“Often people have completely meaningless conversations; even when face-to-face. Conversations are not always
But let’s be honest. People are spending more time indoors than before. Parks that used to be buzzing with children, playing and laughing with one another, are now empty. And these days, with cell phones being inexpensive, children (barely teenagers) are growing up in front of screens.
“Children love to play. No matter how much screen-time you give them; if you give a kid a garden and a ball, they’re going to be out there. Our bodies’ needs haven’t changed. Keep in mind, this technology has only been around for twenty years, and keeping a kid’s attention for long is still as difficult as it was in the past. There are very few programmes and computer games that can do that.”
Then maybe we shouldn’t demonise social networking and see the potential good it can- and is- bringing to the world. It provides an opportunity to gain access to an entire world of information.
“If you were interested in learning something, like break dancing or doing research for a school project and you didn’t have internet, or your parents didn’t have encyclopedias, there was no way you could learn about it. So it can be incredibly empowering. We’re seeing skills being developed by youth that were never possible before. I’m a just a bit concerned about parents who are depriving their kids of the opportunities the technology presents, due to fear. They need to educate themselves about these opportunities, as well as the dangers and not be too quick to judge.”
We can’t avoid the fact that the world is changing rapidly. With new technological advances being introduced everyday, we need to change with it if we don’t intend to be left behind. Or do we? All I know is that we certainly have to slow down every once in a while and unplug from this virtual reality, so that we can rediscover what it is to be human again.