March 7 2014 – Let Me Hear Your Body Talk
Let Me Hear Your Body Talk
The Pros and Cons to New Media Technology
Call, TXT, I.M., email, Tweet, message, Skype, mail, post, blog, page, carrier pigeon, all ways we use to communicate with each other. Well okay pagers? Mail? Some of this stuff gets used more often than others. Although I don’t know about you but when my moms in the den, on her computer playing solitaire, the only way to get her to talk to me about dinner is to send the pigeons in after her. But for the select handful of you who don’t have your own trained messenger pigeons (because lets be real if you had them, you’d use them), why: is it that we so much rather call than txt? Or email rather than go to the post office? I doubt its because stamps are so expensive these days because in which case I will trade you a plethora of stamps for that nice computer or smart phone your reading this on. It’s because it’s faster. One might even say instantaneous.
It’s the same reason we microwave our macaroni and DVR out favorite shows. Here in American we like things fast. The moment we know we want something that’s the moment it should happen. The moment we feel the need to express ourselves it takes little to no preparation, it need only be but a few clicks away. So the question is, does faster really mean better?
Well it would appear to be so given how short life is why would you want to waste time? Why would you drive all the way to your friends house who lives in the next town over to talk about the up coming play offs when you can just sit at home at your computer and message him about it? (Plus this way now you can simultaneously watch funny cat videos). More experiences less time wasted, it sounds like a win/win to me. Or so I thought. You see I turned on the radio a couple days ago to find Olivia Newton John telling me a thing or too about communicating. She didn’t exactly elaborate on how I shouldn’t rely so heavily on carrier pigeons, but there is such a thing as reading between the lines.
Despite the sexual connotations of “lets get physical” Something really struck me in general about the concept of body language she was portraying. The notion that with movement and gesture alone you could convey so much more intimate desire and feeling than words. I pondered that if this is true of intimacy, it certainly must be true of other emotions that we try to communicate. I mean there is just no way that you can really feel what I’m feeling when I send you one of these: 🙂 , 😦 , , ❤ . Olivia gave me hope though. Sexual intimacy. There. There is something that can definetely not be instantaneous. Then I realized that’s nowhere close to the truth, according to a recent survey posted by the National Campaign 39 percent of teenagers admit to having “sexted”. Sexting is a growing craze in which people express themselves sexually through text usually via cell phone.
You may think I’m over reacting, I cant blame you I too am very comfortable with the fast pace communication our society lives in (you are, after all reading my blog). However before you dedicate yourself to thinking there’s nothing wrong with faster and easier, take a look at some of the research I’ve run into. For starters communication specialists estimate that 93 percent of everything you communicate is nonverbal. 38 percent of it is tone and 55 Percent of it is body language. That means more than half of how we effectively understand communication comes from body language.
So what exactly is body language? It’s a constant form of both conscious and unconscious gestures that help us communicate. But gestures aren’t limited to hand movement. Facial expressions are arguably the most important aspect of nonverbal communication. One of the arguments for instant communication that is often used in regards to the smart phones, social networking and all that malarkey is that it connects us with the rest of the world. The problem with that assumption is that, language barriers restrict us. One of the most amazing things about facial expressions is that unless you are Patrick Bateman, all humans understands facial expressions universally no matter what their language or ethnicity is. Gestures vary from culture to culture but your natural expression of emotion that is reliably the same across the board.
Some of the other things that cannot be simulated through instantaneous communication are touch and eye contact. The way you touch someone and the act in and of it’s self can say a lot about both your relationship with another person and how you’re feeling. While eye contact can do that and so much more. Despite what word you are using your eyes tend to show how you really feel. Eye contact can show a vast amount and range of emotion; hatred, disgust, love, anger, sadness, boredom. All of these things allow us to gage other people’s responses to what we are saying. This allows us to measure how well we are being understood and it allows us to communicate how we feel about what we are saying.
Now while body language presumably can be learned, as very evident with extreme cases like Bateman. The overwhelming majority of body language is instinctual, so while much of this sounds very difficult it should for the most part happen effortlessly. In which case I will make the argument that if more than half of our communication is visual and only 7 percent of it verbal, then in order to properly communicate with words one would have to verbally describe there physical manner. Therefore I feel the amount of verbal text it would take to fully describe what one is trying to communicate would be more time consuming than actually talking with someone face to face. What does this say about America as a society? Surely there must be repercussions to the 93 percent of communication that is lost in translation.
The 20th century saw rapid changes the speed of communication. Beginning the century with only the postal service and the telegraph as the most expedient means of communication, the invention of telephone revolutionized communication in ways previously never thought possible. But with the advent of the pager and the cell phone, mass communication was no longer dependent upon tangible phone lines and no doubt the 21st century will end with us all being connected in ways currently unimaginable. Similar to Postman’s concerns I wonder if is this increase in speed is necessarily synonymous with progress. The goal of all communication is to transmit ideas to one another and according to leading psychologists and linguistics experts we know that the majority of communication is done outside of language. If so then the ability to text and even call someone may not be as ideal as it seems. Postman talks a lot about the being afraid of losing the written word. I don’t think this concern is as scary as he suggests. New media technology has made literacy more accessible. A lot of People who can’t even afford homes can still afford cell phone bills and they have an entire encyclopedia of information at their fingertips. That may not seem impressive that a homeless person can watch YouTube and read the times but that is just the bottom of the food chain. Most of My peers have tablets and everyone I know who has a kindle or ipad keeps books on them. My generation isn’t lazy when it comes to reading we just have a lot pulling at our attention so you need to make it convenient for us. That being said I am concerned about the future of our social relationships and how this form of communication will effect our empathy. This morning I got into a heated debate with people I rather enjoy. The topic was something I knew they were ignorant about but even with all the typical conversation strategies to show understanding and empathy to their opinions the energy was still hostile. Your arguments are there for the world to see and I think instead of thinking critically people are thinking combatively. Face to face empathy is where understanding and learning happens, without it I fear our existence may become as trivial as Postman fears. To explore this topic more, I chose to write this entry in the genre of a blog post. A blog post gives the message a added component of satire and more importantly the people, who are most likely to read a blog format, are the people this concept most largely effects.
Trilogy: Information, Persuasion, Entertainment