02 December 2013
The mobile phone has come a long way. No sooner were text messages heralded as the future of communication, smartphones came along – and with their multi-tasking, multi-featured, multi-purpose workings came a whole other level to how we communicate. But in among all the heraldry of new technologies and the wonder that it brings, there sits a very real question: have mobile phones killed the art of human conversation? Chances are, everyone has an anecdote to provide proof that this is indeed the case. But heads down, focused on reading a news app or distracting oneself with a game on the commute to work is surely an acceptable and appropriate harnessing of the technology available? Perhaps the real issue is when it comes to places where conversation used to be king; the dinner table, the pub, the night out. Too often, supposed friends would rather be buried in their virtual social networking world and admiring their customised phone cases than actually reach out to those physically present. And with scientists and psychologists suggesting that we are breeding a generation genuinely frightened of actual conversation, is it time to re-evaluate how we communicate?
Face to face has faded away
According to statistics, the amount of time we spend talking to each other face to face is in decline – and technology can often be to blame for this. From 86% of communication in 2006 all the way down to 72% in 2010, we rely more and more on mobile technology, computers and tablets to keep in touch … including when it comes to work. 'Water-cooler' moments are now an archaic concept with flexible working made all the more accessible by new technologies. Indeed, it seems even the art (if we can call it that) of office gossip is on the wane. It appears in some situations, we are even guilty of using phones as a barrier to conversation completely. Have you ever been guilty of spotting a casual acquaintance, not fancying a chat and pulling out your phone case as a diversionary tactic? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Far from it in fact, with nearly 20% of us admitting to 'fake' phone calls – more worryingly, 45% of mobile phone owners have even used their phone to make contact with someone in the next room.
According to Ofcom " Huge growth in take-up of smartphones and tablets is creating a nation of media multi-taskers, transforming the traditional living room of our parents and grandparents into a digital media hub".
The morality of mobiles?
As much as mobiles are an apparently ubiquitous aspect of modern life, it seems not everyone is taken with them. In fact, 1 in 10 mobile phone users have reported being given short shrift by a stranger as a result of having a conversation in public. It's not all bad for phone addicts though – statistics show that 12% fewer people are annoyed by these one-sided conversations than they were 10 years ago. All things considered, we all know that mobile technology is not the evil that will lead to the apocalypse. But as much as it is something to be used and celebrated, we mustn't forget the art of conversation: after all, it made us who we are today.
Do you think smartphones have killed the human conversation?
Kimberley Rogers on Monday, December 02, 2013 · Leave a Comment