The average college student is socially obsessed.
Whether someone’s the life of the party or texting in the library while he should be studying, students are always communicating.
Recently, one tool has more adequately fulfilled students’ desire for human contact, especially for those with loved ones or friends far away. For those looking for more than the casual text with a friend or the regular phone call to the significant other at home, and the excruciating realization of separation that comes with it, Skype has been the answer.
Freshman Andrew Singles prefers face-to-face communication with those around him, and when he’s missing his girlfriend back home, texting, Facebook, or even a phone call doesn’t always cut it.
“Skype is great because it’s almost like being with that person all the time if you Skype them frequently. It’s important especially when you’re dating someone to see the face you haven’t seen in so long that you miss,” said Singles.
Freshman Rachel Szcepanski often Skypes her brothers to see their familiar faces.
“With all three of us on crazy schedules, we use Skype in order to stay updated with each others’ lives and crack some jokes at the others’ expense,” said Szcepanski.
“I occasionally Skype my parents to reconnect since I’m away from home, and I love being able to see my dog, even though the dog has no idea what I’m doing. It’s just comforting,” said Singles.
Others feel that using Skype with parents can often be questionable, mostly due to technology struggles.
“My parents are the worst texters alive; my mom only knows how to forward e-mails, writing letters doesn’t give them the instant feedback they want, and Skyping is over their heads. Phone calls are all they can really handle,” said Szcepanski.
As for the technologically savvy teenager, “Skype dates” with another person are easy to coordinate, and with the power to unite people miles away with more than just a voice, will these virtual chats take over regular phones calls and other means of communication?
“Skype won’t take over because you need a computer and it’s just not as convenient. They do have it on some phones though,” said sophomore Trevor Loftus.
Szcepanski feels that though Skype will never replace the easily accessible and universally used telephone, its value in keeping long distance relationships strong is undeniable.
“The problem with Skype is you have to have access to a computer and a webcam. If you are ever out somewhere and need to get a hold of someone, Skype just isn’t practical. But with so many people leaving the state and country for jobs, Skype is really helpful in keeping people connected,” said Szcepanski.
Unlike the often vagueness of texting, the misinterpretation of instant messaging, and the lack of visuals with a regular phone call, Skype reminds users of the non-verbal inflections of those communicating and allows each person to say a lot more.
According to ericberne.com and Wikipedia.com, Dr. Albert Mehrabian, a psychologist known for his research on non-verbal communication, published findings revealing that spoken word is only seven percent of communication, while tone of voice is 38 percent, and body language is over half at 55 percent.
“Being able to see someone when you talk lets you see their real reactions. I’m one of those people who doesn’t say too much, but you can always read my face and eyes, so being able to see someone when I talk makes a big difference in the conversation,” said Szcepanski.
The enthusiastic hand-talker also finds that Skype helps to get the point across.
“I’m an animated talker. I even use hand gestures when I’m talking on the phone. It’s just natural and it helps the conversation,” said Singles.
Sophomore Melissa Lobkovich often Skypes her boyfriend who doesn’t attend Ferris, and feels that Skype is a great tool for allowing others to better experience her world.
“I love the fact that with Skype you are able to see the other person because then you can more easily understand the other person by their facial cues and show them where you are,” said Lobkovich.
Along with the non-verbal cues lost with non-visual communication, Skype helps people stay focused on each other and avoid multitasking. Sometimes distracted during regular phone calls, Skype keeps Singles’ focus on the person on the screen.
“If you are talking on the phone, you don’t know if that person’s attention is divided. And when someone gives you eye contact, you know that they are sincerely listening to what you have to say and taking it in,” said Singles.
Chances are that Skype won’t completely eliminate the use of the traditional telephone, but without a doubt, the student with far-away friends, significant others, and family will continue to use Skype to stay part of that person’s life and be reminded of that person’s presence with more than just a voice, but a friendly face. n