The Etiquette of Technology
by Johanne R. Deschamps
The pace of our world today has set the stage for more dependence on technology. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and accessibility to the internet and social media are certainly invaluable tools. Unfortunately, like most things in life, they can cause problems when misused or abused. Texting and instant messaging are efficient, but we tend to rely on them as our primary means of communication these days. Friendships and other relationships often suffer as a result.
Hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and a false sense of bravado are just some of the problems arising from a reliance on technology as our main means of communication. While speaking on the phone, we have the benefit of hearing the tone in someone’s voice. When face-to-face, we have the advantage of reading body language as well. Without these cues, true communication is becoming a lost art.
I’ll admit that the younger generation is finding ingenious ways of dealing with this problem, as evidenced by the plethora of effective, and often hilarious, gifs and emojis. Even so, the value of real human interaction cannot be replaced without losing a part of ourselves in the process.
I have recently sent messages to people through social media and never gotten a reply. I don’t know about you, but I find it rude not to respond when someone speaks to you. Apparently, the same holds true for texting. People often don’t respond to text messages. When asked about it, the answers I get are, “Well you made a statement. You didn’t ask a question. So what is there to respond to?” It’s very simple, really. If I am face-to-face with you, and I say, “I went to the bookstore today and got a couple of interesting books,” would you just ignore what I said, or would you respond in some way, such as, “That’s great!” or “Oh, which ones did you get?” or “I’m not really much of a reader.” Even, “Uh, huh” will do. Some sign that lets the person know that you actually heard what they said is proper etiquette.
I find it insulting, when you are with people, either one-on-one or in a group, at a dinner, a party, or in a meeting, and the person you are trying to talk to is constantly looking at their cell phone. Once again, I think the cell phone is an amazing bit of technology that has given people much more freedom and flexibility in their lives. The problem lies in its misuse. I will occasionally check my cell in a social situation to make sure that there are no messages about family emergencies. Other than that, I put it away. I’ve seen people go through entire social events on their cell phone, catching up on social media, surfing the net, or watching videos. It’s insulting to say the least. Unless you are a doctor on-call or a fireman, or are in charge of world peace, you don’t need to be looking at your cell phone that much.
Cell phones and the internet are amazing technologies. However, when we begin to isolate ourselves because it’s safer or less uncomfortable than actually dealing directly with each other face-to-face, they replace human interaction, and we start to lose a little bit of our humanity.
Photo by Daliscar/Chris (UK) “Shop Window 2”
A native of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Johanne R. Deschamps is a full time writer. Johanne writes poetry, articles and books that inspire and give understanding to readers through her own personal experience. She has been published in Survivor Today Magazine, Changesinlife.com, The Voices Project.org and Silver Sage Magazine. She is also the author of How to Write a Book in a Week and co-author of Gestalt Poetry.