No IMs. No text messaging. Just get together.

By Lovette Ajayi

You know you’re living in 2005 when your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they have no e-mail addresses or your fingers have developed a permanent crook from your chronic typing. We live in the information age, and from looking around, I realize that we are a very technologically dependent society. Computers and cell phones are the main culprits. They have become our main modes of communication, and although the cell phone was invented to be a tool for more convenient communication, it has developed a new form of contact. Text messaging, parallel to instant messaging, has become very commonplace. Nevertheless, it is part of the reason why I think technology is having a detrimental effect on communication in general.

In the age of e-mail, AOL Instant Messenger and text message plans, relationships are now being built and broken via the Internet and through chatting, whether online or through texting. The Internet has become the number-one dating and friendship network, bringing people together across the globe. In this sense, it is a positive network because of the bonds it allows people to share – those that would be otherwise nonexistent. People are connecting from all facets of the world, and that is a beautiful thing. However, it has been entrenched in us so much that we communicate with people across the globe as we do with our immediate social system.

Have you ever Instant Messaged your next-door neighbor, or even your roommate? Are you guilty of having an obscene phone bill, not because you went over your minutes, but because you sent too many text messages? I bet most people answered yes to at least one of those questions. That is because text and instant messaging have rendered our face-to-face interpersonal communication skills somewhat useless, and we have become an impersonal society. When my birthday rolled around, I definitely received more text messages and e-mails than phone calls. I must admit that I’m a text message queen myself, so I am also guilty of sending many congratulatory texts to people, including the many “Happy Valentine’s Day”messages I sent on Monday. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciated that people thought about me, and I loved each text I received. However, it was not until I was writing this article that I realized the extent of our message-dependency. I mean, saying “Happy Birthday” to someone via e-mail or text message is one thing, but I know people whose partners have said “I love you” for the first time in an e-mail or in a text message. I even know of instances where people have been broken up with in this same way. Why do we do such personal things through such impersonal ways?

The irony of it all is that most text conversations end long after the sending back and forth. The fact is that a phone call could make the conversation a lot more concise and less time-consuming, not to mention easier on the fingers. I’m not even going to start on our inability to spell out whole words. Anyway, wouldn’t important moments be a bit more special if you could see someone’s face, or if you could at least hear their voice?

As a society, we’ve become impersonal beings. However, all hope is not lost. We need to know that although we have all these technological opportunities, we shouldn’t abandon the old ways. Try making the effort to call people more, including all those old high school friends you chat with everyday, but haven’t spoken with in three years. Catch up by having a phone conversation filled with actual laughter, not “LOL” and “LMAO.” In fact, I knew I was in trouble when I said the letters “L-O-L” while laughing. It is OK to chat and text message, but we should remember to do and say the essentials through essential means. TC ;) (Take Care, wink!)