By Isabella Kwon
The use of technology as a mode of communication may make people feel awkward when they confront those who they communicate with in real life. Behind a screen, people feel bold and confident because the person they are talking cannot see them which can lead them into saying things that they don’t say in real life. Consequently, when these online friends meet in person, the experience is not the same. The time that they once had to revise their text message is now gone and the true colors of the person show for the first time. Unfortunately, last year, my best friend and I went to different schools. We promised to keep in touch and we did. I texted constantly until, one day, we met over break. We were incredibly awkward with one another and just watched movies for the entire time instead of socializing. Due to our lack of personal communication over time, we had forgotten how to properly address one another.
Technology often provides confusion and misunderstandings for the recipient of the message. A couple months ago, I watched a comedy skit where two men were texting one another. One man interprets his friend’s messages as a friendly invite to go out for some drinks while the other man interprets the texting as a threat and an invitation to fight. It was hysterical to watch the two men--one with a bat in hand--meet at the bar and resolve the misunderstanding. Texting and various other tools that people use to communicate with one another are unreliable mediums to show the true meaning behind the words. With the lack of tone and facial expressions, it is hard to correctly decode the message. For example, the word “okay” can be viewed in several different lights. If one is happy and agrees with the other person, his or her face will light up and their tone will be happy, but if they disagree and say it grudgingly, the passive aggressive tone and disgusted expression will not translate through text. Mere words on a screen cannot describe the tone and facial expressions which are one of the largest components in human socialization.
Yes, the media and other technologies connect people from different regions who never would have met without a helping hand, but is seeing people through a screen really a relationship? A relationship is when someone stays by another’s side even after they see the darkest sides of a person, so constantly seeing the best of someone on a screen is not a strong connection, and will most likely fade out quickly. In 7th grade, a foreign student was introduced at my church and I was part of the welcoming committee, so I was forced to befriend her. The girl turned out to be kind and we exchanged emails to keep in touch. After two very bland emails, we lost contact entirely not because of our personalities, but simply the fact that we didn’t feel connected as friends. Technologies and different types of media cannot stimulate the same type of friendship that people make face to face.
The use of technology makes communication very awkward when people meet face to face. Also, due to lack of facial expressions and tone, there is a lot of room for error when interpreting these messages. A screen will never be able to communicate effectively as speaking up close and personal with the person, so drop your technology and go meet a friend.