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The Better Form of Communication: Online or Face-to-Face?

Take a moment to think of all of the people that you communicated with yesterday. Did you talk to fewer people in person than you did via phone or internet? If you answered “yes,” you’re definitely not alone. The real question is whether or not the increase of phone and online communication is a good or bad thing?

If people today are losing face-to-face interaction, what does that mean for the next generation?
If people today are losing face-to-face interaction, what does that mean for the next generation?

The Star Tribune recently posted an article titled “Can we talk? Face to face, that is” that featured a Minnesota resident who wanted to have more in-person conversations – and he started with random strangers.

According to the article’s author, Kim Ode, “As Taylor Baldry let a tablecloth settle over the card table he’d set up at Lake Calhoun, passersby looked quizzical. Nattily dressed in an argyle vest and corduroy sport coat, he added a small brass reading lamp, then opened three folding chairs. More sidelong glances. Then came the sandwich board: ‘Free Conversations.'”

Baldry had positive thoughts about the conversations he had with those who came to talk with him, and the topics varied as much as the people did. Was his attempt for physically-present dialogue a strange idea?

Kari Logan doesn’t think so. She, like Baldry, has been mourning the loss of conversation for a while, along with the beauty of the written word. She feels that people today have to work harder at reaching out to others with a spoken conversation and with written correspondence that has value and is unabbreviated.

“It seems that my 20-year-old daughter text talks with her friends more than she speaks with her mouth and that’s sad to me,” said Logan. “She has joy in her voice and compassion in her tone and facial expressions. That is lost when you let you your fingers do the talking.”

A self-proclaimed communicator by heredity and education, Logan works here at C.E.L. and loves relating to the public. “You don’t have to go to the extreme of setting up a table and chairs outside,” said Logan. “Just turn and say, ‘hello’ to the person sitting next to you on the bus or talk to the person behind you at the check out line. My daughter is mortified when I do that, but I’m convinced my life is richer for it.”

What about those who love the convenience and simplicity of technology? “Mobile phones and the internet enable us to connect with people almost anywhere,” said Kelly Kison, PR Specialist at C.E.L. “We can easily have a meeting with clients all over the country without anyone having to leave their office. Communication services and products, such as FaceTime on iPads and GoToMeeting, allow us to see and hear one another without the hassle and cost of travel.”

Kison sees the benefits extend to both individuals and businesses as well. “I love being able to go online and send a message to my cousin in Hawaii and see what promotion my favorite store has today, all in real time! Social media truly opens lines for two-way communication so that people can directly communicate, and companies can listen and respond to their customers, prospects and competitors.”

As far as which is better – face-to-face or utilizing technology – it really depends on the preference of those who are communicating.

What do you think? Is technology killing communication? Or enabling it?

Published on: November 3, 2011

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