Is Interpersonal Communication in Decline?

Chances are you have seen it, and even perhaps recently: several people sitting at a table looking at their phones and not talking to each other. A couple decades ago, a scene like that would probably only be imaginable in a science fiction movie. However, it is depressingly familiar now.

If you like people watching, it is a lot less interesting these days because half the people who go by are just looking at their phones. It is like we are turning into an army of zombified clones.

Ironically, cellphones were supposed to make communication easier. They have succeeded in that respect to some degree; when was the last time you had to run around looking for a payphone? However, when smartphones came along and made it possible to browse the Internet, your phone’s purpose suddenly took on a whole new dimension.

It is no longer just a phone, but a small computer that you carry with you at all times. Smart phones became the centre of entertainment for many people and led to a new form of addiction. How many times a day do you look at your smart phone? You might be rather horrified to hear the number.

One result that is clear is that interpersonal communication is in decline. People spend so much time now looking at screens, the old tradition of “let us get together for coffee sometime” has morphed into “let us get together at the coffee shop, sit at the same table, but say virtually nothing to each other.”

Some people now communicate only by texting, even when they and the recipient are in the same home. That has further led to a significant decline in the quality of conversation because people get sick of typing words that have more than four or five characters. It is a sad state of affairs that is likely to continue getting worse.

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