I tried to live without my mobile phone, therefore social media connection, for a full day. It was a difficult experience that showed me hoe dependent I had become on the phone and social media interactions. Also, the observations I made on the nonverbal communication and body language of other people was enlightening on the way concentration on the phone prevents us from observing other people’s nonverbal cues in communication. While technology is good for human communication and entertainment, it is a major hindrance to good interpersonal development.
Staying off the phone for a whole day was difficult as I am used to it much, almost to the level of becoming dependent on it. I was worried about my girlfriend back in Korea, and my other friends. I had fear that they might be calling me and not finding me. Even when I haa the phone, I did not keep on calling, but I wondered how my girlfriend was doing. What was she up to? Was she okay? What was she thinking of my day off the communication grid? On normal days, I checked my social media account for her updates. If I had not managed to keep the day well, she would have been the reason. Therefore, the decision to take a whole day off social media was a difficult decision that caused me a lot of inconveniences. However, the experience taught me much about the need to take some time off social media to engage in real conversations with family and friends. I leaned that the mobile phone and social media normally takes the greatest time of the day. I felt free for the day, and did not know what to do with the extra time that I never have on the days when I am on social media on my phone. I finished the tasks I normally do much earlier than usual, as I did not have to stop to see the messages that were updated on Whatssapp, Facebook, or the latest tweet. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to observe the mannerisms of others as they spoke to me. For the first time, I noticed people smile or frown as they spoke, and watched the gestures that accompanied their speeches. I noticed that I had been missing a lot, because in many instances, I speak to people without looking at them, as I am always focused on my phone as I speak to them.
One important lesson I learned from this experience was that mobile phones and social media has been preventing me from engaging in fruitful discussions with friend and family. It was refreshing to my friends without the distraction of the phone. For the first time, I maintained eye contact with people as they spoke, and the mature ones seemed interested in what I was saying, and the communication became quite cordial. However, for the young people who were busy on their own phones, I felt as if they were not listening to me, and sometimes they did not respond to questions because they were busy on their phones. I realized that this is the way others have been feeling when they speak to me as I am busy on the phone, which made me feel a little guilty. I now know that this is the reason I fail to understand some simple instructions. It is impossible to concentrate when one is busy on the phone. I observed that conversation is not just about words, and I was able to notice many details about people just by observing them. Surprisingly, I realized that almost everybody was busy on their phones during family meetings, at work, on public transport and even while crossing roads. While it looked odd and even disrespectful, I knew that I only felt this way because I had taken a day off the normal practice. On a normal day, I would be one of those people causing irritations. The mobile phone, when used without proper moderation, prevents one from noticing their environments. It isolates them in crowds; therefore, it tends to cause distraction among people, and interferes with the free flow of nonverbal communication among people.
Technology has a major role to play in modern lives. It has enabled certain tasks to be undertaken more easily, an example being the easing of communication in the world. Most people can now communicate with their families and colleagues on phone or text messages and social media sites, such as Whatsapp which is becoming the preferred mode of communication due to its speed and low cost. Moreover, social media has become the preferred mode of communication for many organizations and families because of its quick and immediate response and the capacity to enable group communication. People also use mobile phones for many tasks, such as taking photos and storing important information. Social media is the main source of news and information, replacing the traditional models such as television and radio. Perhaps, the greatest use of the technological appliances that many people own is to access the internet for various reasons. The most important technological device for many people is the mobile phone, with a global number of 6.8 billion, which corresponds to a 96 percent reach (Nakamura, 2015). Apart from communication, many people use it for entertainment purposes.
However, technology has had some negative impact on the way people relate in the world. I am one of those who are distracted by the phone, but after this assignment, I have discovered that it is denying me an opportunity to have fruitful interactions with the people I meet on a daily basis. As Subramanian (2017) observes, social media has replaced the normal interactions between people, and has become the main mode of attraction between family members or workmates. As a result, the number of physical meetings between people has been reduced, and connection of people has been eased. However, there are certain messages and updates of the social media that give false impression of success or happiness. Many young people have ended up with depression after watching their friends supposed happiness in comparison with their own lives. Personal face to face communication would have enabled the young people to discover the fake presentations since it allows the listener the opportunity to gauge the reality of what people are going through despite what they are saying.
Therefore, social media has both positive and negative effects on the way people communicate with each other. The advantage is the speed and convenience, which helps people to communicate faster, conveniently and at a lower cost. It is the main reason why mobile phones and social media have become popular with many people. However, in regards to the interpersonal communication and human closeness, social media has had negative effects. Aishwarya and Vinod (2017) point out that the social media has had a negative impact on the way people relate in the world. The communication that happens on social media is mainly devoid of the nonverbal cues that reinforce the spoken words. First, social media is a major distraction when people are engaging in face to face conversations. It is common to see people in public places such as restaurants and on buses busy on their phones, and not noticing the presence of others around them. Even in families, people hold conversations while busy checking updates from the social media, which make the conversations to lack personal connections. In such scenarios, people tend to only rely on the words spoken by others as opposed to other nonverbal communications aspects which normally make conversations complete. The message of a dialogue does not only depend on what is said, but also how it is said.
However, it should be noted that the world has changed in the way people relate, and it is likely that the use of mobile phones and the social media is there to stay. The generations of young people who have been born and bred in the age of social media are likely to make its usage more widespread. Therefore, the negative aspects observed in the above experience should not be used to deny the positive contributions of technological gadgets to the lives of people. Many tasks are now easier to perform due to the ease brought about by technology. One can record a speech or lesson on his phone instead of taking notes. Also, they can take pictures and videos of important happenings without having to carry around bulky cameras. Therefore, the remedy to its usage would be an attempt to educate the young people on basic etiquette while using the phone and on regulation of the time they spend on social media. This way, they will avoid being distracted by the social media and embrace more personal connection to make the conversations realistic; for example, by avoiding using their phones during personal conversations. Also, this way, they will be able to maintain eye contact when talking to others, especially going by my experience off the grid for a day. Therefore, while social media is a good way of communicating, it needs to be used with much moderation and control; people should be educated on how to use it without interfering with the daily communication.
Aishwarya, M. S. & Vinod, L. (2017). Impact of Social Media on Interpersonal
Communication. Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (IJIR) Vol-3, Issue-7, 2017.
Nakamura, T. (2015). The Action of Looking at a Mobile phone Display as Non Verbal
Behavior/Communication: A Theoretical Perspective. Computers in Human
Subramanian, K. R. (2017). Influence of Social Media in Interpersonal Communication.
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