The Future Is Now
More and more, people of all ages are forgoing face-to-face relationships in favor of connecting through electronic means. There are good points and not so good points to this. Folks from older generations (and we’re talking about Gen Xers here, not your great-grandmother) worry that their children are losing out on forms of traditional communication, and that this will have a detrimental effect when these children are out of college, looking for their first job, and unable to hold an intelligent, confident conversation with people twenty years their senior (i.e., their prospective bosses).
It’s a valid concern. Verbal and nonverbal cues have an innate quality, meaning that they are not learned but instinctual, but there is also a learned component to them. Removing oneself from person-to-person contact can lead to a lack (or loss) of social skills—the very skills that are necessary to succeed in the day-to-day world. And this concern isn’t necessarily limited to the Millennial generation. Responsible, employed adults have been known to break up with a significant other via text message, or fire employees via IM. It’s just easier. It removes the confrontation. It lets the sender get on with his day without having had to speak with or see the reaction—the negative body language—of the person they just devastated.
Obviously, there’s a great upside to communicating in cyberspace, as well. It lets you connect with countless people every day with complete ease, something you’d be hard pressed to do using phone calls or face-to-face meetings. And, of course, messages can be kept simple and to the point. You can text your mother to tell her you’ll be by for dinner without getting tangled up in a twenty-minute conversation about her book club. The key is balance. Don’t substitute a text where a face-to-face conversation is not only preferable, but necessary. And do know the best ways to communicate online. How can you learn them? Read on.