Is Society Losing out on Social Cues Due to Technology?

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Social cues are verbal or non-verbal hints, either positive or negative, that guide social interactions or conversations. These cues can include facial expression, body language, gesture or proximity. These cues are what we use to determine what people really feel as opposed to what they are saying. Over 58% of communication is done through body language, 35% is through vocal tone, pitch, and emphasis, according to a UCLA professor. Think of the cliché response of your partner saying they are “fine”, when clearly their body language and tone of voice say otherwise.

In today’s world, we are slowly losing those social cues due to our increased use of technology as a major form of communication. When you text, email and even call someone on the phone, you lose those little nuances that you see when you communicate face-to-face, which makes sense, since only 7% of communication happens through the text of the message. In fact, in some cyber manner guides, they suggest that you should become less personal and warm when communicating via text or social media in order to avoid any cyber faux pas. These learned behaviors have led to younger generations coming off as cold, antisocial, or awkward to those around them.

Networks Unlimited strives to balance this technology crazed world with the personal contact that is so lacking today. We try to stop by each other’s offices to discuss projects and problems, rather than sending emails all the time. We also make an effort to get to know each other by chatting about our personal lives.  It is amazing how much faster problems can be solved, or projects can be planned out by doing the planning in the same room as everyone else…AT THE SAME TIME! You can all get on the same page easier, faster, and with less misunderstanding than multiple group emails.

We also make sure to have some company breaks where we can get together, eat, chat, and socialize face-to-face. This helps us all bond as a team, and know that even though we all do different things here, we are working towards the same goals and everyone adds something special to the organization. Don’t get me wrong, we work in technology, so there is still plenty of texting, emailing and phone calls; sometimes it is just easier to send a quick email or text when you’re in the middle of something else.

Finding a middle ground of anti-technology vs. no waking moments without, is showcased in this TED talk by Sherry Turkle: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together. She speaks of the paradox of doing a TED talk about technology killing social interactions while loving the fact that her daughter sends her a text message to wish her good luck.

Strive to find your balance in this technology crazed world; even if it just means a couple of hours without devices or walking to your coworker's office instead of sending them that email.