It’s a question that has been plaguing technology users from the moment social media was born. Does communication technology bring us closer together or push us farther apart? I’m here to argue that with the rise of social media and other technological advancements in communication, our relationships are expanding and becoming stronger than ever before.
Ever ask someone in their fifties or sixties about how they stay in touch with former friends from college and high school? Their responses probably displayed evidence suggesting it was very hard to find friends or old colleagues without personal face-to-face interaction. Those of us who have been born into the world of internet and social media have been given the upper-hand of social interactions. If I wanted to look someone up to see how they were doing, I could simply punch their name into the search bar on google. What would I find? Maybe a Facebook or a LinkdIn account could be listed. We would be given the immediate ability to receive a visual image of the person as well as personal information and their career path.
Ever wonder what your high school sweetheart is up to now that it has been fifteen years after graduation? With today’s technologies you are able to reconnect and give that love another chance. An example of this reconnection is displayed on TLC’s television show “On the Fly”. Janette and John are a couple featured on the show whom were high school sweethearts. After 51 years of being apart, Janette decided to look her ex up on the internet. When they finally met up with each other, they realized that they still were in love! It is stories like these that gives us hope and should urge us to fully appreciate the opportunties the internet gives us to reconnect.
Another way the internet strengthens our relationships is by facilitating communication of families who’s members who do not live in close proximity to each other. Say for instance, one of your siblings had a baby but lives across the country. Because of the high expense of airplane tickets, your sibling would most likely only get to visit once a year. It would be so disappointing not to be there to watch the baby grow up. With Skype, an online service that allows video and instant messaging calls, family members can reconnect. By video-chatting each other, we are given the best substitute of communication other than face-to-face.
In a New York Times article, “Long-Distance Dating, Via Skype” describes many relationships that attribute their success to the internets ability to allow frequent communication. Lisa Hoeynck, a student at the University of Notre Dame says, “I don’t know if we would be together without Skype. Seeing his face makes our relationship even stronger.” Having the ability to see someone while you communicate with them, strengthens the context of the conversation. You are able to read body language, which evokes emotional and physical connection thus strengthening the relationship.
We are also able to communicate with other cultures using the internet. It is incredibly easy to log online and reach out to others in countries all over the world. This is an advantage because we are able to broaden our knowledge on other cultures and how they live differently than our own. This is also great for international business and politics. Think about the soldiers serving overseas and our ability to communicate with them. An article in the Tuscaloosa News depicts the special opportunity we have to connect to military personnel who are fighting overseas. It details that “in today’s technological world, soldiers can blog, email friends, and call their families.” It gives a comfort to the soldiers and their family and friends at home to know they are able to maintain contact.
So next time you are asked the question of whether or not you believe technology brings us together or pulls us apart, I urge you to remember this blog post. We owe technology the recognition it deserves in the way it connects us to one another. Without it, we would not be able to communicate with our loved ones with such ease.
Tuscaloosa News: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20090707/NEWS/907069946