Electronic communication is great; fast, efficient, freakishly personal, yet discretely anonymous. But behind every great fortune is a great crime. Electronic communication is guilty of creating addictive illusions and inviting misunderstandings. The sentence: death by overuse.
As a woman using social media for everything from keeping in touch to chasing dreams, I have to say I’ve typed myself into trouble more than a few times. Upon analysis (fancy word for “I can’t sleep”) I realise that the screen between myself and another person has a staggering effect on perceptions.
Do you remember the fat little man behind the curtain who appeared as the great and powerful Wizard of Oz? That curtain has now become a screen (phone, laptop, iPad…your topping of choice). It’s this screen that is now the ruler of human perception. The idea is as disturbing as it is enticing. When one first ventures out into the world of social media it’s often like being a kid in a candy store; “I can say what I want to whom I want without any consequences?!” Well, Harry Potter, I see your invisibility cloak and raise you 1 Twitter account.
Although reaching people at or above the speed of light has its benefits, it also has some undeniable draw backs. The basics of human communication states only 7 percent of what we communicate is about the actual words we use. A whopping 38 and 55 percent is about tone of voice and body language, respectively. Based solely on the mathematics of you + me, that means that talking to someone on social media (or texts/email) is utilising only .07 percent of the human ability to interact. Call me a geek and half, but that bothers me! The only tone of voice we get on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc is eluded by the overuse of punctuation (!?!!! ).
As for body language, we are forced to use smiley faces, ‘winkies’ and emoticons, the majority of which resemble the offspring of a hostile alien race. I’m sorry, but I’m a lot prettier than those emoticons and I resent the fact that is what you’ll picture along with my words. Of course there are those who will come to the defense, arguing that all electronic communication can be accompanied by a picture. Yes, yes I know ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’, but if that picture has had the reality photoshopped right out of it, it’s more like ‘a picture speaks a thousand lies’.
So where does this leave our electronic relationship dependent global society? Highly connected, yet very confused. It’s easy and tempting to replace a phone call or meeting with a quick text or message. Soon this convenience becomes a habit and we start to lose the desire and/or ability to actually sit and talk. I recently saw a sign in a restaurant stating, “No, we don’t have wi-fi; may we suggest talking to each other.” Funny at first, but upon deep thought, that message is rather daunting.
We now have to be reminded that there is life beyond our smart phones. Talking to people requires deliberate effort, and even practice. The old fashioned definition of true love (or friendship) “someone I can talk to”, has never had a more twisted yet critical meaning.
— Summer Yasmin
‘No Sex in the City’ is inspired by the popular TV show Sex and the City, and is a voice representing Desi romance and culture in all its complexities!