Every day, without realizing it, I have conversations with many different people, through various methods of communication. While some conversations are more formal than others, they all serve a distinct purpose. Focusing on how I communicate with those around me for just one day was an eye opening experience. I was able to understand how face-to-face conversations differ from talking through social media, and my conclusion surprised me. Taking an hour without any technology served as a wake up call, and a breath of fresh air. Through directly focusing on my communication, I was able to see how detrimental social media is to the communications process and explicitly see how I use different forms of communication for different conversations.
Honestly, my expectations for my day of observation were low, and I was not looking forward to having to think about how and why I am communicating in certain ways, I just wanted to be able to communicate normally. Going into this day I was worried I would forget to pick up on social cues and be unable to fully depict various forms of communication. I choose last Sunday, September 22, for my day of observation and reflection. I ended up enjoying the day, and more specifically, found it intriguing to reflect on the ways I communicate in society today.
Throughout the day it became evident how face-to-face communication is more formal, and is used for more serious topics as opposed to talking through social media. When talking in person to someone my conversations had more meaning to them. It was apparent what someone’s tone, and implication of their words was. I was able to pick up on nonverbal communication cues and understand exactly what their point was. Also, when seeing someone in person I could immediately see how he or she wanted to present them self to those around them. If their hair and makeup was done, and they were wearing a nice outfit, they wanted to make a good impression on those around them. But if they were wearing sweats with a hat and no makeup, this was a more informal setting and they were not concerned with peoples opinions of them.
When I was texting my friends from home, however, it was a much different scenario, and I was unable to decipher how they really felt. With texting, you can choose to read the message any way you want, and you can make yourself crazy because of this. When informally texting my friends, there were no nonverbal cues I could pick up on, and because of this I was unable to know if they had a sarcastic tone, or how they wanted me to read the message. In contrast, later that night I was video chatting with a friend I had been texting earlier on in the day and the experience was alarmingly different. When texting her I thought she was mad at me, however I had misinterpreted her text and we were able to clear up the confusion right away when seeing each other face-to-face. When video chatting we talked about more serious and important topics. We were able to keep talking for an hour, where as when texting, we did not have anything valuable to say after exchanging eight messages.
Through this conversation and other interactions I was able to rank the methods of communications I used throughout the day from least formal to most formal. The list turned out to be, Twitter, Facebook, texting, Email, phone call, video chat, and finally an in person conversation. This list also happens to be my least favorite, to favorite way of communication. Although texting is quick and easy, I found, if misread, a quick text can cause problems and become a whole argument. So in the long run it is easier and formulates a deeper conversation if you talk on the phone or see someone face-to-face. I have concluded a face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication, and is the only type of communication you can have where a meaningful and deep conversation can occur. A serious conversation would never happen over text, twitter, or any other social media sites. For example, breaking the news of a death in the family would at the very least be done over the phone if you could not see someone in person because it would be disrespectful to do this in any other way. Formal conversations must be done in person because you can never fully understand the implications and tones of a conversation through social media.
“Shutting down” for an hour on Sunday was something, surprisingly, I was looking forward to. Having to constantly check what is new on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is exhausting, and for some inexplicable reason myself, and the rest of this generation, continues to do so every day. However, when I stepped back from technology I was able to enjoy being present in the moment, and not worry about some girl’s latest Instagram picture. I decided to go for a run through campus and then sit up on the Humanities porch and enjoy the fresh air. While running I stopped to talk to friends I saw along the way. Usually while walking through campus my eyes are peeled to my phone and I do not even realize who I am passing by. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces and taking in the beauty of the campus; while I sat overlooking the quad, I felt much more connected with those around me, and with nature. This is ironic because social media is supposed to always keep you connected, but I felt more connected when I was not checking the latest celebrity tweets every five minutes.
I would like to say going back to technology after the hour I was not as addicted, but this would be a lie. While I am actively trying to not use my phone as much, for an inexplicable reason, I continually find myself drawn to social media and other technology sources. However, I am going to try once a week to “unplug” and step away from all my technology, because the hour without it was refreshing and relaxing. When people are present in the moment and actively participating in conversations around them and not worrying about their friends hundred of miles away, they are able to fully engage in the conversation and have deep discussions. Overall my assumptions about this day were incorrect. I found it simple to pick up on different methods of communication and while reflecting, I discovered how drastic the difference is between a texting, and in person conversation, and what it truly means to communicate with those around you.