Culture, Technology — April 11, 2012 10:00 am

Let’s Talk It Out: Conversation in an Age of Texting

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In an age of insanely awesome technological breakthroughs, advanced software systems, social media networking, the newest and latest technological “toy” in the market, and so on and so forth, it begs the questions, “What do we do with all of this technology?” Or, maybe you’re asking more intellectual and cognitive questions, such as, “How will technology shift how we communicate to each other?” If you’re anything like me, you’re pretty overwhelmed by technology, because it’s getting out of hand and getting more and more advanced by the minute, especially if you’re trying to text and walk at the same time. Or maybe I’m just getting old!? But at the same time you’re excited by all the cool toys, like “the new iPad,” I know I am because let’s be honest…we’re all consumers here, right!?

But what about personal interaction(s), conversations, “heart to hearts,” dealing with conflict with other people, or how about this…talking to another human being? Some of you may be wondering and even thinking at this very moment, “I have those types of interactions all the time!” Do you? I hope you do. Or does it look something like this:

Me: “Hey, what’s up!?”

You: “Nothin’ what’s up with you!?”

Me: “Chillin’ at home, watchin’ tv, doin’ some hwk”

You: “Yeah, me too. Lame huh!?”

Me: “Right.”

You: “Okay, peace.”

Me: “Peace”

Not sure if you caught that piece of dialogue, or even if you caught the fact that this entire conversation was over txt (text) message. These are the types of conversations that people have all the time, and they’re digital conversations, and usually, if you’re anything like me, you can have multiple (and I mean more than 5) of these “types of conversations.”

Maybe it looks like this for you?

In a recent article by the LA Times, they discovered some interesting things regarding personal human connectedness, communication, and something called, “conversation” (or lack there of). Here is a small sample of the article:

“…In interviews with 799 teenagers ages 12 to 17, researchers found that 63% of teens say they exchange text messages with friends every day, while only 29% say they talk daily with friends on a cellphone. As for the land line, it appears to be disappearing from the teenage communication repertoire entirely: Only 14% say they talk to friends on land lines every day, and nearly 31% said they never talk to friends on a land line. At the same time, the amount of texts that teens send is growing. The median number (midpoint in the user sample) of texts sent on a typical day by teens 12 to 17 is now 60, up from 50 in 2009. And for girls, that median number is 100. This came as no surprise to one colleague who said his teenage daughter averaged a total of 6,000 texts a month. He said his phone bill, which included a physical record of each of those texts, was 25 pages long. According to the report, the frequency with which kids are texting has not changed from 2009 for white teens but has grown considerably for black teens, who are sending a median of 80 texts a day (up from 60 in 2009), and Hispanic kids, who are sending a median of 100 texts a day. Instant Messaging, which was a popular form of teen communication in the last decade, has also seen a major decline. Only 22% of teens say they use the service on a daily basis.”

These numbers seem staggering, but some say, “Hey, it’s a new era.” I don’t know what your thoughts are regarding these numbers, but when I read them I cannot help but think how students [and adults] desperately need to find and discover avenues to connect with others in meaningful ways. To have the space to communicate in ways other than on Facebook, twitter, and/or texting…

Am I against texting? Absolutely not (I myself rack up around 10,000 texts a month), but I take time to communicate face-to-face with people, sit down with people, and have conversations with them; sometimes over coffee or food, but regardless, I have conversation with people in real life. Students (and really ourselves, if we’re all honest) seek for the human connection; to share, to be heard, to be loved, and to feel like you matter in this radically-changing technological world that we all live in.

featured image: the campus companion 

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2 Comments

  • super great reflection, jason. i am guilty of this. i absolutely HATE the phone – text is so much easier. but i think it has made a lot of us forget how to communicate in person. i have had several conversations even in the last week with people over text or gchat that have followed up with “we should talk about this in person later, i just didn’t know how to bring it up face-to-face” – we have forgotten how to breech difficult topics or converse with human beings. we’ve gotten so good at articulating ourselves with a keyboard!
    then again, that can have its positives – perhaps (we can hope) we have become more reflective. we can pause after getting a text message a think about how we want to reply thoughtfully rather than spouting off a reactive reply like we would in person. or maybe that’s just me being optimistic.

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