Students should put down the tech and enjoy face-to-face conversations

Sara Naatz, Co-Editor

There’s no doubt text messaging, email and Facebook play a huge part in communication today.
Whether it’s an email to an employer, a text to your mom or a Facebook message to a best friend, technology continues to change the way we ex- change information with one another.
According to an article in BusinessWeek, only 7 percent of our communication in person can be at- tributed to the words we actually speak. The other 93 percent is nonverbal — tone of voice, body language and eye contact all play a major part in how information is expressed and received.
When communicating without those visual and auditory cues, we lose a major part of what is truly being said.
Take sympathy for example — eyebrows bunched in concern, eyes wide, voice soft and reas- suring. Over text or Facebook, this translates to an indifferent “I’m sorry.” Punctuation optional.
Without that face-to-face contact, we have no way of knowing how our message will be received.
Teenagers especially are guilty of taking a very important discussion and packing it into a 160-character text message.
We cram all our lovely teen angst and passionate emotions into a text that may or may not be inter- preted correctly. The margin for error is huge.
Cartoon by Evelyn Davis.
People can attach different tones, meanings and connotations to our words that we never intended. “We need to talk,” becomes the start of a fight rather than a simple statement.
Messages that can be typed and sent in an instant, without any face-to-face contact, also al- low us to say whatever we want, without any real forethought.
We don’t consider that what we say may come across as extremely unprofessional, callous or downright mean.
For our generation, it may seem simpler to confront someone in a text message rather than in person. We can type and retype as many times as we want, and we don’t have to deal with the respon- sive anger head-on.
In reality, avoiding face-to-face disputes is the easy way out.
Most people prefer the chance to respond to bad news, accusations or emotional issues in person. A dialogue in which we see each other’s reactions adds a level of sympathy and understanding that is difficult to achieve over text message, email or Facebook.
Choosing to have an important conversation in person also demonstrates a certain level of respect. It shows that you value that person enough to discuss an issue, rather than skirt it briefly without giving them an adequate chance to respond.
Things will never come off how we mean them through technology.
An emoticon will never replace the true depth of human emotion captured in a facial expression.
Typing “hahaha” will never replace genuine, wholehearted laughter.
“I’m sorry” will never replace a tight, reassuring hug.
So put down the phone for a while, and remem- ber what it’s like to talk face-to-face with the people you love and the people you owe it to.