A communication revolution has been occurring for the last 15 or so years as the smartphone has gained popularity, and this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Often you will hear about all the benefits of a connected world and how this is levelling the competitive landscape, but you don’t usually hear about how it is negatively affecting our ability to communicate.
20 years ago, almost everyone but the most introverted had the ability to talk to someone they’d never met before. They also possessed an interest in doing so. As the smartphone has gained traction and our generation has built up somewhat of a uselessness in this regard, we are seeing what happens when you make it easier to text than to talk.
It is an often commented upon phenomenon that young people today have significant troubles when it comes to dating. Finding the right match is hard enough, but it seems like they aren’t even able to meet people properly. This is largely due to the influence of smartphones and our new found insular view of the world.
Talking to people requires so many more skills than are built up through text. There is some skill involved that comes with crafting a message and making sure it is clear to the other person. But it isn’t going to build the same listening skills you hone when you have long in-person conversations. And it definitely isn’t going to teach you how to read other people and build up the human interaction experience that allows you to be confidently empathetic.
In 2012 something very major happened; more than 50% of Americans were in possession of a smartphone. This “tipping point” of sorts has led us down a road of continued commitment to our phones, and therefore increased isolation.
Many will say that those who are on their phones aren’t necessarily isolated, but it does because a zero-sum game at a point. You have a limited amount of time in this world, especially when you factor work and other commitments in, so if you are spending your time communicating via text or reading through social media, you are by definition using up your talking time.
The world isn’t doomed and this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but as a generation comes of age with very little ability to put themselves in real risk, it becomes clear that there is a weakness in our society that needs to be fixed before it is too late.