Loss of the art of listening

18 September 2018

Scribe staff

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    Too much of a good thing can destroy people. Too much water drowns you. Too much sleep and you waste away. Too many chicken nuggets and your arteries become clogged. The same can be said for too much connectedness.

    Our level of technology as a species lets us connect to anyone, at any time, nearly anywhere. Yet as we become more connected, the depth of our communication seems to fade into the noise created by so much information and technology.

    So much information leaves people overwhelmed to  where they no longer have the energy to listen to people, so they stop listening.

    Our society is becoming less communicative, we’ve stopped listening to each other and are disconnected because of technology, and we have  the constant urge to connect with each other without connecting physically.

    I look around at concerts, at the dinner table with my friends, watching the sunrise or sunset, and there is never not a person who isn’t looking through cell phone screens at all of this beauty. Nothing is special anymore unless the rest of the world of social media sees it.

    Because we have adapted to always having our phones on us, we have come to expect each other to always be available for our concerns. Since no one has the energy to always be available to their social circles, people start to avoid communicating with each other, ignoring messages as a way to filter out the noise.

    It is not a malice directed at others that caused a cultural shift in communication; it is just a weariness that being able to connect with people all the time has caused us.

    We have come to rely on these methods of communicating so much that when we are separated from them without an active choice on our part, it feels like an attack, like we are being socially excluded. The fear of those attacks causes us to cling more tightly in instances where the removal of contact is outside of our control.

    The social penetration theory, developed by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor, provides an objective model of how relationships develop through interpersonal communication. The model finds that development occurs mostly through individuals disclosing information about themselves, starting with the superficial and moving to the more intimate.

    Communication itself has completely changed due to the  main method in which we talk to each other: through technology.

    Researchers such as Joseph B. Walther and Malcolm Parks found that the receiver in a digital conversation is more likely to form more extreme and more intense impressions of the other participant.

    In effect, distance created by digital interactions is more likely for us to create internal red herring fallacies, like appeals to motive, tone-policing or straw-manning, when the body language of a face-to-face interaction would have prevented these from entering our thoughts.

    When we create a fallacy in a person’s message that does not exist, which we only create because of a digital divide, then our ability to listen is not only hampered but destroyed.

     We have lessened our chances of actually connecting with each other, of having a meaningful conversation, actually listening to another person as they speak, and we have made almost all of our conversations occur over the phone.

    A new study from Brigham Young University examined how technology interferes with relationships. The researchers concluded that “technoference” can be damaging not just to a relationship but to your psychological health as well.

    Our society is struggling in relationships and friendships because technology is getting in the way of communication.

    This disheartening fact is our reality. The only way to change it is to set  our phones down and actually talk to each other. We need to try to experience the life that is right in front of us without a screen in our face.