By Jeff Stern
Sometimes I wonder if I’m turning into my grandparents. Maybe even my great-grandparents.
I become more certain of it every time a client calls, leaving me a message to text them. I’m not supposed to call back, I’m supposed to text them. It’s as though people go out of their way to avoid talking on the phone.
Even in a restaurant, I’ll be meeting with someone and notice that all around us, people are not talking to each other, but are hunched over their phones. This is social interaction in our age.
Social media has made us antisocial, and we’ve lost a lot of our ability for human contact.
Maybe that’s how my grandparents felt when society made the transition from horse and buggy to motorized vehicles. Sure, it was progress, but everyone was suddenly moving so damn fast we lost the ability to stop and look around at the world we were breezing by. We forgot how to sit still and wait.
Now I’m the old-fashioned guy looking around at society, noticing how we’ve lost the ability to interact like humans. I’m totally serious.
Have you ever walked into the middle of a crowded mall and shouted at the top of your lungs, “Quit your bitching!” or “You’re an idiot!”? It sounds insane, but it happens more than you think.
Before you let yourself off the hook with a “no, I’d NEVER do that!”, ask yourself if you’ve ever said such things publicly online, maybe on a Facebook status or as a comment in a discussion forum. You’ve seen comment sections – they’re full of comments like this. And that, my friend, is exactly what you’re doing when spouting off online – you’re beaking off in a crowded mall to complete strangers.
It’s a bizarre phenomenon of our time. When we’re online, we forget that there are real human people on the other end of the screen. We spurt off things online that we would never do if they were in a crowded place with a megaphone. We’d never say it out in the real world, but we’d say it online. Does this fail to compute for anyone else??
There’s another problem. Our words are only 10 per cent of what we communicate. The other 90 per cent of what we’re saying comes from our tone of voice, facial expression and body language, none of which can be perceived through a text.
Have you ever tried using every tenth word in a conversation? There … … …. … … … …. misunderstanding … … …. …. . … …. … … …. monkeys.
Between our false sense of social connection from behind screens, and our inability to clearly communicate, we’re becoming quite rude, detached and antisocial.
We need to get back to basics, boldly facing faces and braving eye contact. We need to return to using the other 90 per cent of our communication.
What would your comment look like if you only used 10 per cent of the words?