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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Communicating face-to-face less and less

When you have exciting news to tell, chances are you don’t reach for the tlephone anymore to tell your friends and loved ones; you probably log onto Facebook and post a status to your wall, letting all of your Facebook friends see the important news. People are beginning to use social media as their primary source of communication, and in my opinion, this oftentimes leads to inconsistencies in message delivery.

Our society has begun to use face-to-face communication less and less, and this is significantly impacting our society as a whole, especially in areas such as:
  • Business: Many people hide behind emails today. Tracy Crevar Warren, a consultant for the Crevar Group agrees that “…the "younger" generation lack poor social skills and the ability to conduct successful face-to-face meetings because of their virtual interactions” (Can Facebook Kill Face-to-Face Networking?).
  • Family Dynamics: Children are so caught up in social media, they forget to converse with their family, unless it’s through social media.
  • Education: Students are less engaged in school and learning because they are distracted by social media.
  • Communication between Friends: No longer do you call up your friend to hang out, plans are always made through social media.
This crossing over from face-to-face communication to social media can lead to misunderstanding and misconceptions. Because people are interpreting what they are reading rather than taking cues from body language and tone of voice, the true meaning behind a message can be lost between the sender and the receiver, and ugly misreading can take place. 

This happened to me one time. I had written an email to the athletic director at my grade school, where I was employed as a score keeper. I was upset with the way that the scheduling had occurred, so I wrote him a friendly complaint letter. He misinterpreted my email as a direct criticism of him, and he wrote a nasty email back to me. I was only 15 years old, so you can imagine how hurt I was when I received his email back. This is just one example of how social media can hinder communication.

Face-to-face communication is slowly phasing out because of social media, but it is still a skill that is extremely important to have. So the next time that you have important news to tell, I challenge you to call up your friends rather than tweeting or posting about it.

Stacy Amstadt
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
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