Goodbye Face-to-Face, Hello Facebook

Social media can decrease our communication abilities

Texting, Facebooking and Tweeting have opened many borders in terms of communication, and the “technirevolution” just keeps expanding.

Being a journalism student, it has come to my realization that it is at times easier to contact a source on Facebook for a story. Phone calls and e-mails are not always answered as quickly as a Facebook message.

Yes, social media and text messaging have made our lives much easier. We’re able to connect with friends and family we don’t see on a regular basis. If we don’t feel like having an actual phone conversation, texting will do just fine.

Honestly, sometimes I prefer texting to talking on the phone. Talking on the phone has not always been my favorite task, but I’m used to making phone calls nearly every day. I managed to overcome my childhood phobia of phone conversations.

Although I am grateful to be a part of the technological revolution generation, known as the “Millennial” generation or “iGeneration,” I often wonder if the art of an actual face-to-face conversation will one day be lost forever.

Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, wrote a column on titled “Generation ‘Text’: FB me.” In his column, Rosen highlighted the differences in how today’s teens and young adults rely heavily on social media rather than having a face-to-face conversation, which is what previous generations recognized as their main source of communication.

Rosen indicated that in the first quarter of 2009, the average U.S. teen made a total of 191 phone calls, but sent and received 2,899 text messages per month, courtesy of Nielson Mobile.

Is this data a sign of the times? I’d say so. A phone conversation is just not the main way we communicate anymore. Aside from phone conversations, what is going to happen to actual in-person conversations?

Although Rosen refers to the iGeneration as the “smartest” generation yet since they (or, we) are a highly social generation who value friendship and family, but in terms of face-to-face communication, is technology making us less efficient communicators in person?

It could just be me, but I find a face-to-face conversation much more engaging and valuable than an email or Facebook conversation. Not to mention it’s easier to decipher one’s tone of voice and body language.

There is just something personal about communicating in person. When I have a face-to-face conversation, I feel as if I can establish a connection. Over e-mail or Facebook, I don’t feel that a real connection can be made.

Even a conversation over the phone gives some insight to someone’s personality by his or her tone of voice, but it’s definitely not the same. I wonder if we’ll forget how to take hints and read body language, creating communication barriers, which are definitely not good.

Overall, there are positives to the increase in communication via technology and social media, but there are negatives as well. Have some of us become so used to communicating via the Internet or text that we no longer know how to hold a real human-to-human conversation?

I embrace the changes our society and culture are enduring, but I never want to lose the ability to have a good, old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.