There are so many advantages to the Internet. Beyond networking, sales, job opportunities, access to information, online dating, friend-making, gaming, entertainment, free and inaccurate diagnosis of all your medical ailments, event information, and the like, it is a really great way to avoid contact with other people as much as is humanly possible. With the rapid modernization of the technologies involved in computer and cell phone interfacing, a person need not ever interact with others if they chose to do so.
Of course, there are probably a myriad of mental disorders such hermit-ish behavior fall under.
Touters of networking giants, like Facebook and Twitter, are now releasing statements that their sites are not a replacement for the value of real, in-person relationships. And they are not. (Gee, thanks for telling us, guys … us lemmings really were too busy letting you think for us to realize that…) But beyond that there is another oft-undiscussed thing that is of real concern in this, the age of technology: the loss of body language.
So, it would stand to reason that if roughly 50% of our communication is done through gesture and body language, if you lose the ability to do so, the results might be … well, bad.
Take for example the following scenario: let’s say I am your friend and I send you the following email.
Hey. So I really think you need to go Danielle’s bachelorette party. You know how she gets when people don’t come to her things and, anyway, you don’t have anything else going on this weekend anyway. So I’ll see you there.
While I very well may have just been trying to be a good friend to you and our mutual friend, Danielle, my email sounds more like I’m telling you what to do and implying that I can do as such.
And how many times have you gotten a response like this to a lengthy email inquiring about something important to you?
It seems that a cut-and-dry email or message such as that would make things more streamlined, more efficient you might say. But without body language, a simple No sounds a lot more like anger, scoff, frustration, or carelessness. How dare that inconsiderate-responder not at least explain himself!
So while it may seem that the Internet is a great way to avoid people and their weird odors; plus help us avoid confrontation, do things at your own leisure and ease, and take risks and chances you might otherwise not take behind the safety of your own, personal computer, nothing can substitute an occasional healthy dose of body language. The flailing gestures, the facial cues, the body positioning, and even (in some cases) the scents (pheromones) are so integral in human communication it seems that despite all its advantages, this is just another way that the Internet is doing a great disservice to our culture.