September 22, 2020

BY KEILA MACPHERSON
There was a time long, long ago when silence was filled with the sounds of chatter, laughter and conversation …
Actually, it wasn’t more than 10 to 15 years ago. So, what happened?
Now silence is filled by the electronic tones of Blackberry Messenger pings and the glass tone of the iPhone.
Technology has many advantages, and I admit to being attached to my iPhone, but texting has ruined the way people have face-to-face, substantial conversations. Texting is quick, to the point and convenient, but at social gatherings it can interfere with important human contact.
I was at a friend’s party for her son’s second birthday and kids of all ages were there. My 16-year-old sister was standing by the refreshment table when a kid half her age started talking to her.
I watched as she smiled awkwardly, nodded and said very little. After the kid left, my sister came up to me and said, “Oh my gosh. I don’t even know how to talk to someone anymore!”
Texting lacks a depth and understanding that comes from face-to-face interaction. According to James Borg’s book, Persuasion: Body Language, non-verbal cues are a big part of communication.
Although emoticons and punctuation give some context, the message can still be misinterpreted by the reader. This can result in unnecessary misunderstandings in a relationship.
Text messaging is also a great way to ignore people.
Although it gives parents peace of mind when their kids go out, it also gives the recipient the ability to ignore the sender whenever they like, and maybe never respond. Imagine having a conversation with someone and they intentionally tune out, get up and walk away.
Or when you’re hanging out with a group of friends and three out of four of you have your heads down and fingers tapping away, checking Facebook or texting when someone is trying to talk.
I was born at a time when cellphones were used for calling on the go; literally mobile phones. Texting was rare and kids played outside and with their friends, not on their parents’ phones or tablets. I often see babies in carts at the store or in their strollers playing with these electronics.
With such advances in technology over the last 10 years, what will people, especially children, of the future learn? What kind of attitude will they have toward other people? If they aren’t taught, to some degree, to detach from these devices, I’m afraid future generations will become totally socially incompetent.
I say we turn off our cellphones instead of tuning out the people around us.