In Public Relations, communication is the key factor to what practitioners use effectively in the industry in order to reach their target audience. Today, the communication world has exploded with different avenues for people to connect with. Social media has expanded to practically all demographics, young kids, teenagers, adults, elders- almost everyone has access to communicating in one way or another. To list a few, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp- are some of the ways people communicate with each other today. Not only do these platforms allow people to communicate with one another but it allows for companies to share their products, news, updates and more with the public. As much as there are pro’s to communicating, there are however cons that come with the growth of communications.
Amongst the many discussions my PR class has had with each other, one caught my attention. Our professor asked the class a basic question that seemed to come with many difficult answers- “If I placed a box at the front of the room and asked you to drop your cell phones in for the remainder of class (that being 2 hours), how many of you would be okay with disconnecting?”
Obviously, whispers started up and then the whispers turned into a larger conversation of various answers. Some students had no issues with disconnecting for a couple of hours, whereas others had a sheer look of terror on their face. Some people argued that they have their phone with them 24/7 because of relations they cannot reach in a face-to-face setting. Some people just admitted they have to constantly stay on their phones in order to stay updated with either what is going on around them or what other people are up to.
Now I understand the pros that come with this need to always stay connected, but I see a negative light that sheds on possibly bigger issues that may be seen as a con. Technology is constantly growing and advancing, coming up with new techniques and ways of communicating, easily. Not necessarily effectively, but easier. Recently, Apple launched their newest phone, updating all their latest software, that hardly needs you to actually write anything, rather than just speak. Emoji’s are replacing words. Texting ignores the professional ways of speaking. More and more people are unable to hold a face-to-face conversation, as they are not familiar with social cues or know how to keep a conversation going.
Our generation needs to stay connected, but are we effectively staying connected?
Majority of our generation gets their news from Facebook or buzzfeed… we aren’t being encouraged to find news, the news finds us. In some ways, communications have drifted from caring about the quality of the news, but the quantity. Most people rather read an article head line, than the actual contents of the story. We demand to have something, as soon as we need it- the news finds us, or if we need a story or fact, we rely on our technology rather than walking to the store, possibly interacting with people and purchasing the newspaper. Yes, social media has its many benefits, but sometimes it seems that more and more people misuse the platforms, or mistake social media as their only source of communication. Personally, if you cannot have a face-to-face conversation with someone, no matter what context, how is that going to help you in the future? Yeah, your social media has given you 2000 friends and 700 likes per photo, but can you actually confront, discuss and hold a conversation?
Going back to the class discussion- I personally believe, if you cannot disconnect yourself from your phone, snapchat streaks, Facebook updates, or Instagram tags, how in any way is that good for a person’s life, personal or professional? One needs to limit themselves to media intake- communicating on a platform for work is a necessity, however communication skills I believe are a significantly more important trait to have. Communicating with friends and family to stay in touch is an essential way to stay connected. The social media communication tools are perfect for people who are separated by distance to help stay connected. However, communicating and living in the moment is also just as important. Seems like more and more young people growing up are reversing the importance of communication- first: learn how to speak in any setting, to any person, face-to- face. Second: Learn about the upcoming social media advancements that can benefit yourself and your professional life. Spoiler*= people are skipping the first step….
If we can take note of bad and good habits we practice with our communication ways, one could do so much more in a positive light with their professional and personal life. Just because communication is evolving and moving on to ‘bigger and better’ things, does not necessarily mean we leave behind our essential ‘old’ school communication skills.
Disconnect for a while, live in the moment, talk to someone directly, read the newspaper…