Thank you Rob for your contribution to The Guest Writer Blog
How We Communicate Through Digital
Written by Rob Pell
The digital age has made the spread, flow and reception of
information far easier, so it’s no wonder that it has also dramatically altered
the ways in which we communicate with one another. Traditional factors that
drove conversation in bygone ages have disappeared and been replaced with new
methods of communication.
Even the dynamics of communication have changed; once upon a
time we had to be where we said we were going to be at any given time, now this
is not the case. The increased reliability of digital communication devices
that can be used on the move has, in turn, allowed humans to become less
Whether this has made us better communicators or worse
communicators is a matter of debate. What is certain though is that the ability
to send a text to a friend explaining that we will be late or requesting to
meet in a different location has introduced levels of insincerity into the
communicative process that previously did not exist.
These new methods of communication have skewed the way in
which we perceive ourselves as individuals and as parts of a group. The
connectivity of digital devices means that we are almost never truly alone; we
are almost inescapably connected to all our friends and contacts, 24/7.
This connectivity means that, while we previously had very
clear perceptions of what it means to be alone or together, the lines are now
blurred. We now operate a sort of ‘communication hierarchy’ where certain
methods of communication are given more prestige than others.
For example dumping someone or passing on important
information by text is considered a major no-no, while telephoning someone to
give them a textable piece of micro-information is similarly a social faux pas.
The paraphernalia that comes with such digital communication
devices has also altered the ways in which we communicate. While headphones
have been available since the 1980s, the popularization of smartphones and
other digital devices that double up as media players has led to a marked
increase in their use.
Wearing headphones is akin to wearing a sign that says
“don’t talk to me”, giving us a simple way of avoiding potentially important
confrontation, discussion and communication. This form of non-communication is
actually communicative in itself as it shows others how receptive we will be to
interaction. , another modern communication anomaly.
Away from smartphones and portable devices – although not
entirely disconnected, this is the digital age after all – are the worlds of
Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that exist digitally online. These
methods of communication – coupled with the rise of broadband internet –
unprecedented levels of cross-platform conversation.
Two friends might be discussing something via text; they may
want to add a third friend to the conversation so they move to WhatsApp; one
friend wants to share a video and does it quickly and easily on Twitter; the
three friends then decide to organize something and so set up a Facebook group.
This back and forwards, cross-pollination of information is something all
effective digital communicators will be aware of, the ease of such complex
communication in the modern age has made it a regular occurrence.
This is where the argument that modern technology is killing
the art of communication falls apart; in many ways modern technology is giving
communication an element of sophistication it has never enjoyed before. You
could say that what we are experiencing is communication, but not as we knew