Personal communication with today’s technology

A while back, I read an article about how todays technology, meant to bring people together across great distances, is actually destroying personal communication. It gave 7 reasons “the 21st Century is Making You Miserable.” I’ll link to the original article at the bottom, but be warned, it has some inappropriate language and content. But the 7 reasons are very interesting and enlightening. Now most of these are self explanatory. Some require some explanation which I’ll give afterward. I’ll list them here:

  1. We don’t have enough annoying strangers in our lives.
  2. We don’t have enough annoying friends, either.
  3. “Texting” is a [crappy] way to communicate.
  4. Online company only makes us lonelier.
  5. We don’t get criticized enough.
  6. We’re victims of the outrage machine.
  7. We feel worthless because we actually are worthless.

1,2. According to the article author, “The more we’re able to edit the annoyance out of our lives, the less we’re able to handle it.” When we don’t know how to handle it, we blow up when we encounter it. But what about from your friends? “Peacefully dealing with incompatible people is crucial to living in a society” and that includes friends. In fact, it’s probably more important for friends and people we like. Now days, we can get online and find people with the exact same interests whom we call “friends”, but with whom we never have conflict. The result is an inability to deal with opposing points of view.

3. A study published in The Christian Science Monitor shows that 40% of what you say through email is misunderstood. As much of a non-shocker as that is, it illustrates problems with trying to communicate through technology rather than face to face or at least through the phone.

4. Even with lots and lots of online friends, we still don’t get the hug when we need it. And when we do get criticized online, we don’t have the support of friends around us. It’s us against the world.

5. Even though there is all kinds of “yelling” and “screaming” online, none of it really matters. When we are criticized online, we can easily shrug it off because the criticism didn’t come from a “real” person. It’s from somebody in India that we’ve never met before and will never meet (even online again) and so it doesn’t matter. Constructive criticism is one of the ways we better ourselves. If we aren’t bettering ourselves, we feel alone and depressed.

6. The Outrage Machine is Mass Media. Outrage and extremism bring more viewers/readers/money/etc. So mass media doesn’t report of the good of the world, they report the extreme. Even when something reportable is “normal,” the extreme is extracted (or exaggerated) to get more eyeballs. So even though our lives are more comfortable than any previous generation, we are miserable because we don’t hear about the good in the world.

7. Don’t take this one the wrong way. When the author says that we actually are worthless, it’s not that we don’t have potential. It’s about action. Technology makes it so our friends aren’t local. We can’t comfort them when having a bad day. We can’t take them to lunch and provide some much needed comfort ice-cream. Cyberspace friends demand far less from us than our real world friends and family. We feel worthless because we don’t really help people very much. And service to others is a huge boon for one’s self worth.

So look at yourself. Many of these reason don’t affect the typical, well rounded individual. However, I’m sure there are those around you that fall into these categories, and in turn, your interaction with them is less fulfilling. So ever though you might say that you aren’t affected by today’s technology, you are. Especially the Outrage Machine. We are all affected by that.

I guess my wife and I need to stop IMing each other while sitting right next to each other in bed 😉

So how can we counter these types or problems. How can society properly evolve with these technologies? Can we?

Original Article: 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable (WARNING: explicit language and inappropriate content)

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3 Responses

  1. Mike W. says:

    Great post, Dan.

    (I should probably call you and tell you or write you a letter). Especially the first two are critical. Because we don’t know how to deal with frustration and annoyance in real time, when the next generation gets married or serves a mission they will fail abjectly in dealing with problems. Violence and termination of the relationship because an easy out because that’s what we’ve done technologically all during our growing up years.

    So, Reluctant, what to do to avoid these problems and still take advantage of the great opportunities afforded by technology.

  2. Dave says:

    I think that we need to regard technology as a tool–period. It’s not a miracle, a godsend, a “method of communication” or anything more than a tool. It should not be allowed to replace practical human interaction.

    I think we were too impersonal 25 years ago, and much more so today. And I’m as bad as anyone else (not because of technology, but because of general misanthropy).

    I think part of our aversion to personal methods of communication is that few people take the time to speak and write well. We don’t express ourselves well, and so others don’t care to listen to us. Think about it–the people you like to talk to are those who express themselves effectively. The way most of us speak doesn’t really make anyone want to listen to us. It’s a skill that has been lost, and the desire to listen has followed it into the woods. The same goes for writing.

    And so we turn to the easiest (laziest) form of communication because no one really wants to hear or read what we say or write. There are more compelling speakers and writers in the media, so we turn to them.

    The solution: work on our communication skills. Be the kind of speaker and writer that people want to listen to and read from. Elevate the conversation to a point that is challenging but not difficult, classy but not inaccessible, generally interesting but not vulgar.

  3. Mike W. says:

    Wow, if you wrote like that more often, I would be more likely to read what you write. 😉

    I agree totally. Thanks for writing making that point so well.

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