Communication changes with technology, social media

Caitlin Mecham interacts with friends via texting and online messaging.
Caitlin Mecham interacts with friends via texting and online messaging.

New technology and social media sites are constantly changing, evolving and developing, which means the face of personal communication is also changing. These changes often mean people are having less and less face-to-face interaction.

Email, texting, Facebook and Twitter are just a few examples of mediums that have diminished verbal communication. Verbal communication has decreased dramatically from just 20 years ago, when most of the technology used today did not even exist.

Email was one of the first forms of communication technology to come about that is still used today, starting during the ’70s but not becoming popular until the ’90s.

Email is currently the most popular form of online communication, even after discounting the large volume of spam messages sent. According to readwrite.com, about 188 billion emails are sent out per day. In addition, there are three times as many email accounts as Twitter and Facebook accounts combined.

“[I use email] usually for more professional things, like coordinating things with the service program that I help direct,” said Michael Carter, a senior from Orange County, California. “Anything related to … school or business or things a lot of times will be email.”

Contrary to popular belief, email usage has increased over the years. Email volume rose 5.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to powerprodirect.com. In addition, 79 percent of people use their smart phones to check their email, a much higher percentage than the 43 percent who use them to make phone calls, according to nichevertising.com.

Texting has also increased dramatically since it first came about in the ’90s and is now used for communicate more than calling someone is. More than 70 percent of people use their smart phones to text, according to connectmogul.com.

“I think it depends on importance and urgency,” Carter said. “If it wasn’t that important and if it wasn’t very urgent, I’d probably text. And then if it was more urgent and more important, I would probably call them.”

About 4.1 billion text messages are sent per day in the U.S., according to Answers Corporation.

“It’s convenient,” Carter said. “People usually just carry their phone with them, and you don’t have to log into a web browser or anything to get on email or social media. You just pull it out of your pocket and do it.”

Sending messages through social media sites, such as Facebook, is also taking the place of verbal communication. More than four billion messages are sent daily over Facebook, according to techcrunch.com. Although this is far behind the rate of emails being sent, it is almost equal to the number of texts sent per day in the U.S., making up a large portion of the way people communicate.

“With new media it’s just easier in our society to go the easy route,” said Kelsey Gentry, a junior from North Carolina. “[It] takes less time out of your individual schedule.”

Facebook is also accessed largely through mobile devices, with 751 million users accessing it from a mobile device — more than half of its 1.11 billion users and a 54 percent increase from the mobile users in March 2012, according to Facebook.

Not only do people use Facebook to communicate, but the great deal of time they spend on it takes away from the time they might spend interacting with people in person. According to dazeinfo.com, 23 percent of users check their accounts at least five times every day.

“[I check Facebook] to see what’s going on with people and to look at their pictures,” said Caitlin Mecham, a sophomore from Phoenix, Ariz.

The use of other social media sites, such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn has also skyrocketed, diminishing verbal communication. More than 163 billion tweets have been sent since Twitter was invented, averaging around 175 million tweets per day in 2012, according to dazeinfo.com.

However, even more time is spent on Instagram than on Twitter. In August 2012, users spent an average of 170 minutes on Twitter via mobile device and approximately 257 minutes on Instagram. More than 5 million photos are uploaded every day, and after two years the app has attracted more than 50 million users, according to dazeinfo.com. Over six months, visitors increased by 724 percent.

“[People use social media] to broadcast their lives to everybody,” Mecham said. “They want to update them all the time.”

Pinterest and Linkedin have also had their share of visitors, with LinkedIn used primarily for business connections and Pinterest used largely by women.

“There are pins on Pinterest that say it’s electronic hoarding, and that’s what it is,” Mecham said. “You find all these ideas that you want to do, and you save them for the future.”

It is no secret that time spent on new technology and social media sites is increasing immensely, creating less time for real-life interactions. Likewise, there is no doubt that as these numbers continue to rise, face-to-face and verbal communication will continue to decrease and possibly even become a mere trend of the past.

Hayley Eastman

Hayley Eastman is a lifestyle reporter for the Universe. She is majoring in journalism and hopes to design layouts for a fashion magazine one day.

Archives