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Technology and its effect on relationships. Are we losing the ability to effectively communicate with words?

When was the last time you received a letter in the post that wasn’t a bill or an official document? Can you even remember the last time you sat down and hand-wrote a letter to a friend or family member?

The chances are the majority of people would answer no; letter writing is becoming a thing of the past, something we relate to our Grandparents during wartime, or something we’d only consider doing once a year, during the Christmas card season.

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Image By: Fonna Tasha

We may feel like we’re constantly connected to our friends and family, through social media or via text, but wouldn’t you rather hear a story in full than just gaging a snippet of it through a 140 character limit?

Is technology degrading our communication skills?

Of course, the benefits of communications technology are undeniable. You can have instant contact with anyone, regardless of how far away they are, and track hundreds of friends, well acquaintances, through statuses, tweets and photos that document their life. Yet, there are unavoidable drawbacks to each of these methods, perhaps the most prominent being the feeding of our laziness and lack of proper communication.

  • The mobile phone: While mobile technology allows us to make phone calls on-the-go and therefore arguably permitting more frequent contact, the nature of these phone calls is often rushed and fleeting, as we squeeze a call to our mother in a ten minute walk from our front door to the train station. In addition, signal is lost, connections can be poor and background noise is a great distraction, which ultimately fragments our conversation.

    And then there are those moments when a mobile phone interrupts our face-to-face contact, often known as ‘phubbing.’ People answering the phone or texting in the middle of conversations is becoming more and more common, and is drastically changing the unspoken rules and etiquette of human interaction.

    Would it not be better to put the time aside to ring from a landline and have and in-depth, uninterrupted conversation? And with Phone Number Finders there really is no excuse not to pick up the phone…

  • The text message: A text message, and in fact an email, eliminates the significance of intonation and vocal expression, that are so crucial to verbal communication. For this reason, text messages are so commonly misinterpreted, read in the wrong way, or judged in the wrong tone. Once sent, you have no control over how it will be read, and so the message you give could end up as the opposite to what you intended.

  • Social media: Although it may feel like you know every detail of your friends’ lives (including what they’re eating for dinner and how crowded their bus journey home was, thanks to Twitter), it is such an impersonal way of keeping in contact. Plus, your friends may not be aware that you take the time to catch up on what they’re doing and believe that you’re simply not interested. And liking their profile picture once a month does not count as making an effort.

Why not use the information you read on their pages to spark a visit, a phone conversation or letter?

How is language suffering?

‘Tbh not sure if will defo make it 2nite atm.’ Does this sound familiar? As if receiving an impersonal text message excuse with no explanation is not bad enough, abbreviated words and lack of grammar are the icing on the cake of revealing how little we can be bothered, even if we do not realise that this is the message we are conveying.

Abbreviated words are creeping their way into everyday language and shockingly even into some dictionaries. ‘Defo’, ‘probs’ and ‘obvs’ are just a few, and in reality is missing off a couple of syllables genuinely going to save us any time?

The casual syntax of social media is reserving the need for accurate grammar and spelling for academia and the work place. Yet many of these are even becoming more tenuous. With instant messaging becoming a more prominent form of communication in the work place, how many times a day do we actually write a full, grammatically correct sentence?

Why is letter-writing so important?

By receiving a letter you gain so much more of the sender’s personality than you would by merely reading an email. Not only does the writer’s choice of paper impact the impression you get, but the style of their handwriting is likely to conjure up their voice or aura of their characteristics, which gives the contact a much more personal feel.

Writing a letter takes time, as it requires careful consideration and the time to say exactly what you want to. If someone’s sent you a letter, you know they’ve put in the effort to write and go out and send the letter, which is likely to automatically strengthen the bond you have with this person.

There are also many circumstances where a phone call or visit may not be appropriate, such as reconnecting with a long lost family member.

Letters are of great importance when it comes to documenting the past and have taught us a large majority of what we know of our history. Collecting your letters and saving them as keepsakes will be of significant nostalgic value one day in the future.

Perhaps more than anything, receiving a hand-written letter in the post is considerably more exciting than having an email ping into your inbox, and it means you can look forward to the postman’s daily delivery, rather than face it with a dread of the bills and reminders from the dentist being shoved through your letter box.

Although communications technology has provided us with many benefits, it is important that we don’t lose the significance of letter-writing, not only to maintain our communication skills, but also enforce the importance of spelling and grammar.

So grab some paper and connect with a friend or family member in the most personal and rewarding way there is.