people using their phone

Has The Internet Changed The Way We Communicate?

There are over 1.9 billion websites and over 500 million tweets sent on a daily basis to over 4.3 billion people in the twenty-first century. Today, more people can access information and share whatever they like in a way that was not possible with our previous generations.

The rise of the internet, email and social media use has definitely changed the way people communicate, maintain friendships, live and work. Most people you speak to might argue that the utilisation of the internet have caused people to be more unsociable by driving them away from the physical world, spending more of their time hiding behind a computer or smartphone screen.

With the world wide web, we no longer require offices, bars, homes or cafes to keep in touch with other people. We can do it right from where we are. With this in mind, the ultimate questions have become:

Are we disconnecting to people around us when we connect to the internet?

Are we becoming lazy and antisocial by hiding behind the screen?

The internet has changed our society as a whole, not just the ways in which we communicate. For more information on today’s society and mental health, see our blog here.

But for now, listed below are some of the top ways the internet has managed to change the way we communicate.

Texting Rather Than Calling

In days gone by, the way we communicated with our loved ones or partners, husbands or wives, relied solely on face-to-face interactions, or phone calls.

Since the smartphone invention, technology has changed this behaviour to a dramatic degree. Whilst picking up the phone and making a phone call is still within our grasp, text messaging has become the more popular way to communicate, especially if the conversation is going to be awkward, confronting or negative. But why?

Introverts, or socially awkward people might prefer texting because talking on the phone feels overwhelming. Texting allows them the space to gather their thoughts and communicate more freely.

Although text messaging instead of calling can be convenient, there are times when you should always call instead of texting. Some of these include cancelling on a huge event, when a friend isn’t doing so great, or a family member is ill or has been in an accident.

Is It OK To Break Up With Somebody Over Text?

Breaking up with someone is never easy. Even when you know it’s for the best, having to actually say the words can be a struggle. This is why people everything they can in order to avoid a face-to-face break up.

These days, anything from going radio silent, to just changing their relationship status on Facebook is considered a legitimate way to dump someone. But that doesn’t mean it’s right.

More and more, people will do anything to avoid conflict. Some are just simply afraid of hurting a person that they once loved, and others are simply looking for the easy way out. There are a multitude of reasons that could explain what pushes someone to break up with their partner in a manner that is as impersonal as being dumped by text message.

More importantly however, most of the people that have been broken up with in that way are left without a detailed explanation of what went wrong, or at the very least, left wanting more of a conversation. That is a normal reaction to have and many feel like they deserve a face-to-face encounter.

Because the internet has changed the way we communicate, it’s also, inevitably, changed the way we emotionally relate to others. As texting has overtaken phone calls or physical interaction, many people see this way of communicating as sufficient, regardless of the situation.

How Social Media Has Changed Everyday Communication?

There are approximately 2.8 billion people in the world that frequently use social media. This means that roughly 30% of humans on our planet are on social media of some sort.

Before technology existed, we were very limited in our means to interact with others. And the people that we did interact with, were those that we already knew in-person. Forms of communication that older generations had included landline telephone calls, letters in the mail, hand-written notes, developed photos, and beepers, among others.

Most of our younger generation wouldn’t know what any of those things are or what they’re used for, simply because technology has evolved drastically over the years, and has taken over nearly everything.

Three of biggest changes in the way that we interact with one another, due to social media, are listed below.

1. Interaction with Others

Because of the thousands of social media user’s, we have the ability to “connect” with people all over the world. This is why you see people that have thousands of Facebook “friend’s” or are “followed” by tens of thousands of Instagram users.

The internet gives us a sense of urgency to communicate with others. After all, sending a text, DM, email, or snap, takes a matter of seconds. The amount of time that it takes to send out an instant message and receive a response back, is extremely convenient so it is the preferred form of communication today.

2. Social Skills

Although technology has its advantages, unfortunately a lot people today seem to rather check their phone every two minutes, than to engage in meaningful, verbal conversations. Some people nowadays are completely incapable of holding a normal conversation and interacting because of the dependency of social media.

You have probably noticed couples that are out on dates that are using their mobile phones, or even parent’s on their phones not paying attention to their children. We’ve all seen groups of friends Snapchatting one another or scrolling through Instagram feeds.

Many experts have agreed that the trouble with technology, is that it has brainwashed people into thinking that it brings people together when in all reality, it actually separates us.

3. No Filter

Before social media became popular, you had to speak to people face-to-face. Nowadays, we can express our thoughts, opinions and ideas on the internet. Social media has been used as an outlet for people to share their personal news to the world.

The way that we express ourselves through text, however, can give people the wrong idea at times. Some things may be perceived differently in the eyes of other’s, which could potentially result in conflict. The lack of hearing someone’s tone of voice can make the reader interpret a message completely out of the desired context.

While some stories are inspirational, all social media platforms are uncensored, which allows people to have a freedom of speech. This can be extremely alarming, especially for the younger generation. And this is where we get to the part about internet trolls and bullying.

Trolling and Online Bullying on Social Media

A social media troll is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users. In fact, there are people who actually get paid to post derogatory comments, as well as off-topic messages, hoping to dominate public discourse on social media. But unfortunately, the majority of trolls do this for their own satisfaction and want to spark emotional trauma in their intended victims.

These days trolling and online bullying is by far the most vicious and damaging to adolescents and teenagers.

Common sites accessed by our children, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, have all become a platform and a stage to bombard people with insults, provocations and insulting, threatening language. This causes huge distress to the recipient of the message.

Some trolls and bullies see it has harmless fun, but for the majority of people it affects, it can be quite consequential, in both the short and long term.

As it turns out, the majority of teens have experienced some form of cyber bullying. Alarmingly, as of January 2019, this figure is 59% for Australian teenagers.

As smartphones have become the norm for our children, this fact opens up a huge doorway for bullies to name-call their way into others teenager’s lives. Whilst most would never say these things in a face-to-face encounter, hiding behind a smart phone screen gives them the chance to inflict as much damage as they like.

If you are a concerned parent and would like to read more in-depth information about your child and social media, see our previous blog here

Overview

Put simply, the internet is the easier way for people to communicate with each other. We no longer have to meet up with friends, colleagues, business associates, or loved ones in person, to “connect”.

Has this made us more lazy as a society? For a lot of people, it certainly seems so.

Chatting through text has allowed us to seemingly put aside other people’s feelings. In certain situations, it can sometimes be impersonal or disrespectful, and without consequences.

With the limitation of old communication tools, the use of internet for communication can be overwhelming for a lot of people. For teenagers, it is the norm, for older Australians, it is now a requirement, whether we like it or not.

If you are experiencing any issues regarding internet activity or the consequences surrounding your everyday life, Counselling@Voxen can help you gain some clarity on how to best work through them. Make an appointment with Katherine today.