Where's Waldo? I bet you can find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter!
From social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, to emails and my absolute favourite, Blackberry Messenger; it's almost impossible to fall out of touch with someone. This is the new way to find friends and communicate. It's an amazing thing to be able to connect with friends and family so easily.
I can't tell you how many hours I've spent on my Blackberry, hunched over in deep concentration, oblivious to all around me - thumbs going a mile a minute whilst chatting away with friends and family both far and near. It's gotten to a point where my Blackberry is almost an extension of who I am. Seldom am I without my trusty pal and the day that I'm forced to go without it, it's almost like I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms! I can't concentrate! My mind wonders constantly about who's messaging me! What's happening in my group chats? The moment we are reunited, I breathe a deep sigh of relief and promise never to part again. My fellow blackberry users, I know you all can testify to this.
I'm not as avid a Facebook user. I don't log on every day or change my status and update my pictures regularly but I do enjoy browsing friends profiles and getting that sneak peek into their lives. Who has gotten married? Whose got two kids and a dog? Facebook answers it all.
But am I the only one who has noticed that while the use of these sites is steadily increasing, the use of verbal communication is decreasing? It may not be the same for everyone but I have most definitely noticed that phone calls are becoming few and far in between. More and more my fingers are doing the talking and my mouth is moving less and less. We are essentially communicating more but talking less. Tell me, when is the last time someone asked you for your phone number?
Gone are the days of waiting patiently for that special someone to call. No more hours spent on the phone talking about everything and nothing at the same time. Listening to their voice, enjoying the way the pitch goes up when they are nervous, noticing the way it deepens when they are talking about something personal to them.
Remember those periodic phone calls from friends and family abroad? The joy of anticipation, storing up each fun moment and interesting experience, so that when the time came for that call when the phone rang and it was them, you were practically bursting with excitement to get the words out! Am I the only one that misses that?
There's something about verbal communication that no amount of texting, emailing, tweeting or facebooking can replace. There's clarity in the spoken word. The tones in with which we speak, the inflection of our voice, the lyrical patterns we use all make verbal communication a thing of beauty. It's so much easier to misconstrue something that is written. A misplaced comma, a missing question mark can lead to an ambiguity and misunderstanding of what someone is trying to say. LOL! can never take the place of hearing someone laugh out loud.
I can admit my phone bill certainly hasn't suffered with this shift in communication patterns. I have certainly saved a considerable amount of money. But I wonder; was it really fair trade?
Somebody, anybody, please call me and we will talk about it.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Penny Small is a freelance contributor to MNI Alive. She is a Pharmacist by profession, currently residing in the Caribbean.