Is Social Media Killing Conversation?

In my Strategic Social Media marketing class, of all places, we are watching a TED Talk by Sherry Turkle entitled “Connected But Alone?” It’s excellent. And it hits close to home because I am actually here Tweeting and blogging during the class. So am I promoting conversation?

I’m promoting communication, but not really conversation. Implicit in Turkle’s argument are the difference between the two.

A communication is an exchange of information in the strictest sense. Simple.

convo

Cute, right? And this type of contact represents the bulk of contact between modern folks. It’s amazing and sad at once.

A conversation may be a lost art, but it is definitely an art. I remember an earlier time, before texts and before Tweets, when I felt clever. I was lamenting recently about a time when I wrote a song per day. Many of them were junk, but it was not a thang for me to think of a clever rhyme, pun or situation and flesh it out and into something cohesive. Can’t do that no more. And everyone knows conversation makes you more smarterer. . . rer.

So maybe my lovely wife, when she points out how technology has stolen my attention and my time, has a valid point. Maybe technology is killing conversation. I must break free of the ball and chain which futuristic living has imposed!

But not right now. Busy Tweeting.

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4 comments

  1. Social media actually encourages communication. You’re on the wrong sites.

    You can’t have an in-depth discussion using 140 characters for each message. Facebook is spammed with pictures of duckfaces and “Look at this random sunrise”. Go to message boards, blogs and niche websites. Go to niche subreddits. You’ll see long-winded and amazing in-depth conversations. In fact, almost of my serious conversations are online because I can see people who are interested in it like I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right. But I think we need to define what a “conversation” really is?

      The difference between typed media posts and spoken words is huge. When you post something, you can actually take time to craft it, check it and go back to change some stuff before you approve. You can go back later and clarify stuff. And the printed word is without context.

      By comparison, what I would consider a true conversation involves body language, verbal inflection, and words you can’t edit or delete. And when you are talking to another person, the conversation flows naturally and freely. And you must decide what you are saying as you are saying it. Defined this way, “conversation” takes on a whole new dimension completely missing from text-based communication, photos, videos or even adorable cat-related memes.

      So my argument isn’t that social media discourages communication. Quite the opposite. We are all plugged in and it’s easy to communicate what we are up to. But the art of quick-witted conversation is suffering terribly, and so are the interpersonal skills that come with its practice.

      …Oh and one more thing we discussed in class, and touching on the last point you made: Online communication is almost entirely geared toward like-minded people. Unless you’re a troll. In real conversation, you don’t have the whole world to communicate to. Just the person next to you. So you must also practice at finding common ground and agreeing to disagree sometimes. Kind of like what we’re doing ;-P

      Like

      • ” involves body language, verbal inflection, and words you can’t edit or delete. ” All of which are terrible things if you want to conduct an intellectual conversations. When you discuss ideas, it doesn’t matter whether you say it loud or quiet. It has no effect on the truth of your statement.

        The fact you can edit, fact-check, post link to evidence is what makes online discussions so fulfilling. They’re the most intellectual. Text is intellectual. Speech isn’t so good at transmitting intellectual content.

        Like

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