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The Pros and Cons of Communication Technology

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Technological advancement is going so fast it's hard to keep up with. Technology is supposed to make things more efficient and quicker. The buzzer sounds on that. Things are faster a lot of the time, but technology is so sophisticated and advancing so rapidly one can buy a computer or phone and it's outdated in three months, not to mention more complicated to use. That's why we have tech support. Tech support is fraught with problems when the techies are from different countries and their accents are a great challenge for some people, especially people like me who are experiencing hearing loss. They are not bad or wrong. They are hard working people doing their job. But it still presents difficulties for those who need the services of their companies.

Technology is wonderful. It does make things more convenient and faster, but it has created a breakdown of human communication. People are obsessed with their cell phones. At first, they were to talk on. Then they were good for texting. Now you can check your email and go on the internet. There are thousands of apps, games, music, and video to entertain us for hours. Go to a public place anywhere in the world where modern technology is available and you will see people with their faces in a device and they're scrolling and texting with fervency. When I am in a waiting room, I am one of the people who have their nose in the phone. I do so because then I don't have to touch magazines that are full of germs. But that's another topic for another day. Following here are several categories of communication technology and do's and don'ts to keep the world and our individual lives from insanity.

Texting Can Be a Problem of Great Proportions

There have been so many new ways to communicate the last twenty years through technology. Gone are the days when we talked face to face to have a discussion. I know of someone who went out to dinner with his wife and two other couples. While they waited for the waitress to come, everyone was texting in their own little worlds. This person texted everyone at the table and said, "Can we just talk to each other?"

When I first learned to text I thought it was great fun. I would send affectionate little comments to friends and family. Then I would send little messages like "Where are you?" As time has gone on, people say "Don't call me, text me." They want to have long conversations via text. I get so tired of taking the next five minutes punching tiny little buttons with one finger a thousand times and using three text screens to get the full message. As of late, I tell those people I prefer talking. If it's just a sentence or two I don't mind. But paragraph upon paragraph? No!

I recently saw a bumper sticker with the greeting card character Maxine. It said "Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving and you'll meet him." It's scary and it's against the law. Why not pull off the road if expecting an important text message, and/or need to send a text? If you have a teenager with an obsession with texting, it's important to use caution when letting them drive.

Some people only respond to texts. If you call and leave a voicemail, they don't respond. But texting gets an immediate response. People don't want to talk. It takes a lot more time and effort to text than it does to have a voice conversation. In the time it takes to discuss plans for the weekend via texting, you could have talked on the phone in five minutes and be packing for the outing.

Texting is a great convenience, but it's opened the way for poor interpersonal communication, and rude and dangerous behavior. Texting is meant for brief messages, not a personal conversation. I break that rule all the time because that's how people want to communicate but I am so sick of it.

The worst way to use texting is to use it to tell a girlfriend or husband you want to break up, or that you are expecting a baby, or your mother just died. There are some things that must be said face to face.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Side of Cell Phones

Cell phones, I will admit, are one of the greatest technological gadgets of the 20th and 21st centuries. I live in a rural area. There is a long narrow highway with no lights at night. If my car breaks down and I don't have a cell, I will have to walk miles to find help or be prey to people I don't care to meet in the dark. I am strictly a cell user because I cannot afford both a landline and a cell phone. I prefer a cell because of the remoteness of my area. Unfortunately, there is only one cell company provider I can use out here. And it is a safety issue as well as a convenience. I love the speed dial.

That is the gift of cell phone technology. You can take it wherever you go. If you are expecting an important call from the doctor's office with test results, but you have to run some important errands, you will be able to receive that and not miss it. If you have to be at work at 8:00 a.m. and there is a traffic standstill on the freeway, you can call your boss and let him know. If you are going to an unfamiliar business or friend's house and you get lost, you can call them or use the GPS and Mapquest from your phone.

As good as cell phones can be, people can be rude with them. Here are some points of cell phone etiquette.

Do's

  • Wait until you are served at a store or bank before using your cell phone. You are not the center of the universe, thus it's not fair to hold up the line.
  • Pull over if you need to text or call someone. I've had many conversations and texted in parking lots. Some phones have options to do voice-activated calling and texting. Very cool. But it can still be a distraction.
  • Turn your sound off or the whole phone off while driving if you find it too maddening to ignore it or pull over.
  • Make sure you turn your phone to silent or vibrate while in meetings, church, or anywhere else where there needs to be quiet. Even vibrate can be a distraction though.
  • If you have a more economy phone, remember to keep your mouth at a little distance so your voice and words aren't distorted.
  • Call or visit in person to resolve conflicts if at all possible.

Don'ts

  • Don't talk on your phone or text while you are with people unless it's urgent. It's just rude.
  • Don't break devastating news through texting. It's calloused.
  • Don't propose to your girlfriend via text message. It's lazy and unromantic. It sends the message that your sweetheart doesn't merit your presence to propose. And don't expect a yes.
  • Don't ignore people who call just because you prefer texting. There are exceptions, of course.
  • Don't turn on speaker phone without the person on the other end knowing about it.
  • Don't read your social media, email, internet or play games while talking on the phone. I have been guilty of this a few times.

Facebook and Twitter- Do's and Dont's

I loved Facebook for several years but recently deactivated my account. Because of all the vitriol over the election and a constant flow of articles and comments, I began to feel a sense of oppression. I don't need it and I don't miss it. I used to love keeping up with friends and family but there became more garbage than pleasant things.

I have a Twitter account, but I found it user unfriendly so I don't use it. So again, I think social networking is taking away from personal, in-person relationships. We have three hundred "friends" we barely know.

Here is a list of do's and don'ts that come to mind with social networks:

Do's

  • Be kind and respectful
  • Use it to build up not tear down
  • Keep your mouth clean and the photos appropriate
  • If someone asks that you not send them stuff, respect their wishes
  • If you want to make an announcement about someone else's business, ask permission to do so first.
  • For your own safety, keep your basic information, photo's, and wall posts private from the public. Settings can give you different options on who sees your posts.
  • If you have children and teens using Facebook, monitor them closely. I know a thirteen-year-old girl who friended over seven hundred fifty people. Not safe. Her mother removed her.
  • Fact check news items.
  • Don't respond to troll-like behavior. Ignore them, unfollow or unfriend them.
  • If you want to converse with a friend about personal stuff that others don't want or need to know, use the instant message or chat feature.
  • Ignore, unfollow, or unfriend people that are always posting rants about different causes or personal issues if they get you upset.

Don'ts

  • Don't send game requests if you know they are unwelcome.
  • Don't do drama by calling people out or going on about your personal problems.
  • Don't put a major life change announcement without calling your family first. It's very unsettling to hear your family is making a huge life change and hearing it for the first time on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Please don't post TMI's, like how your child has been vomiting all day or some other disgusting thing. Just say "My son has a stomach virus."
  • Don't write personal things on your child's Facebook that would embarrass them.
  • Don't send selfies day after day, especially in your sexy poses and provocative dress. Guys, don't send us all your beefcake photos of you working out or posting with your shirt off. We've become a selfie-obsessed world. This is an unhealthy obsession and attention seeking behavior. We're bored with it, even sick of it.
  • Don't promote drug use and partying photos.
  • Please don't send out those awful chain posts that ask you to cut and paste and forward, especially the ones that shame you. An example would be "Cancer is a terrible disease blah, blah, blah. Please cut and paste this and forward it. I know ninety-eight percent of my friends won't forward this, and you know who you are, blah, blah, blah." Another reason I got off of Facebook.
  • Don't clutter up peoples walls with apps unless you are sure they appreciate them.
  • This is a personal decision, but I think it dangerous and careless to put your email, web pages, and phone number to be viewed for all. But it's up to you.
  • Don't make rude comments or jokes that could hurt in response to someone's status, comment, or photo.
  • Don't friend strangers. I know someone who did this and she now has a restraining order against him as he is stalking her, and making telephone death threats.
  • Don't respond to or decline friend requests from strangers. It can be dangerous.
  • And last but not least, this one is for me as well as for others, don't waste away half the day fiddling around on social networking. We get fat, less personally communicative, and open ourselves up to risky situations
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Email is Good, But Be Careful

I personally love email. It's great to set up meetings, give information to someone, chat with friends and family etc. However, I know that it is just one more thing to keep us all from communicating more intimately. There are a great many ways on email to make blunders with very unpleasant consequences. Relationships have been destroyed by email carelessness. Let me give you a few examples:

  • Someone is angry or upset with another person. They write an email to someone else who is not involved, complaining or bad mouthing the one they are angry with and they accidentally send it to the wrong person, or worse, to the person they're mad at. This is true for texts too.
  • Sometimes we write long emotional letters to people to work out a relationship problem. The second you are done with it you hit send. Then you slap your hand on your forehead and say, "Oh, I wish I hadn't sent that." Once it's out there, there isn't anything you can do to stop it.

Much like texting, with email communication, you cannot see facial expressions or body language. You cannot hear the inflection of one's voice. It opens the way for misunderstandings and breakdowns in relationships.

Here are some do's and don'ts.

Do's

  • Take time to spell and punctuate. Laziness in this area makes it a longer read for the one who has to decipher it and it's annoying.
  • Double check the "To" line so that you avoid sending something to the wrong person.
  • Let people know you would rather not receive the types of messages they're sending, or that they not send so many. You can say they're impersonal and you'd rather hear how they are doing if you really would like to hear from them...
  • Fact check news information that someone emailed to you before forwarding it. That goes for petitions where people are required to sign with their address and phone number.

Don'ts

  • Don't send messages that say, "If you love the one who sent this message, send it back." Another variation would be, "Send this message to ten people, and you will find the man of your dreams in five days." People hate these and don't read them.
  • Don't send warm, fuzzy, rainbow, unicorn, cuddly bears emails with tinkling music along with a sappy sentiment. Most people don't like them or read them.
  • Don't send out mass chain mail, which would contain the same things above. People don't like them.
  • Don't make a habit of barraging people multiple emails a day with links, or with the above content. People don't like it and don't read them.
  • The last word of caution, don't give someone another person's email address without their permission. That would go for CC under the "TO" line with a long list of email addresses of your friends and acquaintances. Many people aren't comfortable with having their email addresses exposed to strangers.
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Impatience

People have become impatient about waiting for responses to texts, social media posts, and emails. I have already written an article on this, which you can find at the end of this article. What I will say is that it is one more evidence that people are demanding, selfish, and lacking patience. Patience is indeed a virtue but it's falling flat for some people, I think in large part due to technologies efforts to speed things up.

Folks, the world will not come to an end if you have to wait awhile.

A Word of Encouragement and Exhortation

Since I use these modern technologies, I cannot tell everyone they are all bad. These communication technologies add a lot of conveniences and can be useful for communication that is urgent, or very important. But I would encourage people to think about working more in interpersonal, face-to-face and mannered telephone communication. Intimate relationships don't work via texting, email, and Facebook. Don't replace intimate relationships with technological relationships. Your relationships will be healthier and add to your quality of life. I am very thankful for all the wonderful, useful ways communication technology can benefit us. They just need to be used with discretion and wisdom.

Don't replace intimate relationships with technological relationships.

Don't replace intimate relationships with technological relationships.

© 2011 Lori Colbo

Comments

Lori Colbo (author) from Pacific Northwest on February 27, 2015:

Thanks for stopping by David. You're 12 years old? I'm not sure what you were asking. Do you mean make my communication points in bold print or something else?

David 12 yrs on February 26, 2015:

I think you article is good can you make the part about communication a bit more bulder

Lori Colbo (author) from Pacific Northwest on June 03, 2014:

Thanks Maddy.

maddy on June 02, 2014:

Great article

Lori Colbo (author) from Pacific Northwest on August 02, 2011:

Oh, good one tamara. Never thought of that. Wouldn't it be nice to do that face-to=face with unsafe people. Thanks for stopping by.

tamarindcandy on August 02, 2011:

There's one thing you can do with social networking you can't in face-to-face communication: block people. Invaluable feature, really.