It appears as though social media and texting are the epitome of 21st century innovations in the form of communication. Conveniently contact people with a typed message without worrying about bothering them during work or class and converse with them at your own pace.
The same can also be said for social networks: messages on Facebook, snaps on Snapchat, etc. But despite this convenience and effectiveness, I think we should invest more in communicating in a way that may soon become a dying art: things like letter writing and phone calls. I often think about how life must have been before social networks and texting. According to people like my parents, if you and your friends were planning something you would have to call each other’s home phones and honor the plan by appearing at the exact time and place discussed, since there was no way to contact one another after leaving home. Even today it is much more effective to discuss making plans in real time with an actual conversation. With texting, the conversation does not happen in real time; questions asked via text may take minutes or hours for an answer, whereas a phone call requires your undivided attention.
Sometimes written messages can also be very vague or ambiguous, unlike conversations where tone of voice and emotion can be understood. Text messages may send unclear signals. Another negative effect of choosing texting over speech is the deteriorating social and conversation skills of frequent text users, particularly young people between the ages of 12 and 29. Studies show that these young people were unable to sustain conversations, maintain appropriate body language, resolve conflicts, or demonstrate leadership.
I grew up just as the digital age began to unfold, and I remember it being a simpler time when emails were becoming secondary to phone calls as the best way of communicating, and social activities or accomplishments were disclosed to friends and family by word of mouth, not through social media or texting. Even though I myself got on board with this revolution, there have been times where I, out of the blue, decided to pick up the phone and call an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Although both of us had seen what the other was up to, especially post-high-school graduation, it felt better and more authentic to recap all our accomplishments and plans orally and sometimes we would learn something that we hadn’t shared on an app or website. So no matter what social media or instant communication we have now or in the future, I personally think that nothing beats a simple phone call.
Nicolas De Castro is a student at Florida International University.