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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Technology: A Verbal Communication Breaker

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Technology is something that reaches almost everyone in one way or another, from the Internet and cell phones, to digital satellite television, navigation systems and other items that make our lives easier, but when one examines this, can the cost be weighed in loss of human interaction?

From a 30-minute phone call with a computer in an attempt to reach a human who speaks English, to self checkout systems at many stores, technology is everywhere, but we are losing a lot as humans as it begins to prevail in every aspect of our everyday lives.

A recent trip to my hometown grocery store made me think about just how much the human verbal communication process is truly being broken due to technology. As I went through the checkout, a teen girl was texting in between scanning my grocery items, she continued without making even the slightest eye contact, and as I completed my transaction, she managed to utter my total before going back to her phone for one more message. Without a single word, I paid as she handed me the exact change the register ordered her to give me, and no, she did not count it back, but that's a different story. No "Thank you for shopping with us," "Have a nice day," nothing. It makes me wonder what type of job she might end up with later in life.

This was by no means the first time I have witnessed this type of activity in the last few years, but the trend seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, as even older people seem to be taking part. They do not mind going in and paying for their gas while maintaining a conversation on their cell phone at the same time the cashier is updating her Facebook status.

The human communication process is something that enables children to learn how to act in any given social situation. If they are taking three steps forward with technology, doesn't it seem for everything that's gained, there's something lost?

Will Generation Y and Z even be required to read? With voice texting, apps to read newspapers and other material, will they simply be given head phones when they are born and begin learning in their little world? It is a scary thought, given, it is not very realistic, but then again, who thought 20 years ago you could use a phone for such things as a mobile chat room, connecting with people all over the world, scanning barcodes to find the best price, and thousands of other things the app world has provided?

I realize communication processes change drastically over the years, from etching on the walls of caves to texting and video chat, but maybe if employers would implement some sort of policy during work hours that forced employees to leave their phones until break time, we would not lose so much of the traditional informal communication. This is something that is vital to our youth and their future employment, the ability to interact, make eye contact and carry on a conversation.

I remember as a young teen the barrage of neatly folded handwritten notes my friends and I used to pass during and between classes. I managed to save these for many years, and there was enough to fill a large bag. I realize texts are the latest alternate form of communication, but when we were growing up, we did not write notes while we were working for pay. It was unheard of, and we would probably have been written up.

Perhaps I sound like my mother complaining about hard rock music and how she just knows it is going to permanently damage my ears, but I feel verbal communication is a dying art among young adults and there appears to be no easy solution.