Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Tumblr. Pinterest. Texting, iMessage, Facebook Messenger.
There was once a time when communication required face-to-face interaction. When relationships and friendships were based on spending time with one another, being able to hold a decent conversation in person, and understanding social cues.
Technology and social media blurs those lines. Hidden behind computer screens, we type away to our hearts content. We can make ourselves seem more impressive by Googling quotes to post as Facebook statuses or insightful captions to photos. We create a new social dynamic online and feel pressured to stick by it; when there is a birthday, you can be sure that there will be at least fifty “Happy Birthdays” posted on your “wall.”
Recently, saying things like “I’ll post it on your wall” has become the vernacular. The most recent occurrence of nonsensical Internet terms becoming real words was a study done proving that words like “doge” and other common memes will become the vernacular somewhere in our near futures.
A topic that is frequently tackled but never fully taken down is this: Where do we draw the line? When do we decide to take back our formal ways of speaking and communicating with one another? When will it be time to take back friendships and define them as more than just daily snapchat conversations about mundane things?
These things cannot possibly enhance our means of communicating with one another. While they make relationships and friendships easier to maintain from across state borders, which is helpful to the population on campus here at Denison as well as outside in the “real world,” what are these things really teaching us?
I can maintain a friendship without seeing someone for days. We still come back to each other every once in a while and talk about what we’re doing in our lives, but it always ends up being some strange mix of “the last time we talked, I forgot to text you back!”
Texting and Facebook messaging, while both are endearing and more private than Facebook walls, and are both closer to talking than people tend to get, are still not a completely effective means of communicating. If I have to text you, I will sit on my phone for a bit, trying to not offend you with punctuation because an exclamation mark might completely render the meaning of my message.
If I add a question mark? To the end of something I think I know as honest? I’m trying to tell you that I doubt what I know, not that I am asking you a question. How you choose to respond is up to your own discretion, be it in a timely manner, or three hours later with a slight “IDK.”
Within people, there is a general fear of speaking anywhere that is not permissible or usual. Online is where people can be fully expressive, whether they are loving or fighting words. I am frequently told by friends that even a phone call is painful and awkward; it is so much easier to write something out than to say it out loud. What are we hiding in our voices that could hurt a society so much? Do we even have voices at all?