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Lost in translation: Texting killing human communication skills

By Sean Boswell
On April 6, 2012

The technology that has been developed over the past decade is incredible. As a society, we are so drawn in by such strange applications. Brick Breaker, Angry Birds, Baby Shaker, the list goes on. We cannot get enough, but what so entices us may hinder our society in the long run.

While these applications are interesting and fun, what they are doing is taking away from our everyday relationships and overall social skills.

Studies show that the average age of children getting their first cell phones is 8-years-old. In fact, more than 35 percent of children in second and third grade own cell phones. The irony is that these young kids are now becoming more versed in texting lingo than they are in proper English and face-to-face conversation.

It seems that people are becoming uncomfortable with in-person confrontation of any kind, or even talking over the phone. Social media and texting are becoming the new phone and face-to-face conversations. It's less threatening to text someone or shoot them a Facebook message than it is to actually hear his voice or, god forbid, look her in the eye. If someone is shy or doesn't want to sound awkward over the phone, he can text someone and have a similar conversation in written form, where answers don't have to be "on the spot." Sure, texting provides a certain level of convenience, and I'm sure we've all enjoyed the ability to chit chat with friends while in class, but the fact is much of today's new technology is threatening what used to be innate social interaction skills.

Texting lacks personality. We all have used the little smiley faces to imply happiness or the winky faces to imply, well, other things ... but at the same time we are not emoting over the phone. We are digressing from what makes our personality unique. Aside from the fact that we're losing valuable opportunities to practice in-person interactions that might help us to be more comfortable in meeting new people or interviewing for jobs, we also risk the notorious loss of tone in texts. Saying "whatever" through text can mean everything from "I'm cool with anything" to "don't talk to me, I'm mad at you." It's obnoxious that fights can occur over toneless text conversations when, in fact, the entire problem was a misunderstanding.

"We're losing old-fashioned contact and phone conversations. Our future won't know how to talk one-on-one confidently. We miss all our surroundings," said DePaul student Allison Preston.

In the U.S., 91 percent of the population owns a cell phone, and there are approximately 285 million cell phone subscribers.

"I look around and suddenly I'm in the Loop," said DePaul student Jake Daulton. Daulton is just one of thousands of DePaul students walking around campus that pays more attention to texting than what's going on around him, risking being hit by a car or running into others.

"A lot of our social skills are developed over the phone. We miss a lot," said DePaul student Mark Palilunas. Aside from our safety, our human communication skills are also becoming eroded through our continued obsession with new communication, especially texting. Only a decade ago, the only way to reach someone was to write them a letter, go to their house or call them on the phone. But all that's changed now.

Cell phones and iPods are items we carry in our hands. We bring them everywhere. They are used when driving, walking, riding a train, even when hanging around our friends. They cause more distraction than anything.

Will there come a day when people don't even need to process verbal language to sustain relationships? It's vital that we reconnect ourselves with one another through human communication and take a break from screen-staring all day.

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