Advances in technology have made it easier than ever before to reach and interact with people around the world. However, does this mean that it is also easier to connect and form meaningful relationships with others? In this essay, I will argue that while digital communication may be easy and convenient, it is no substitute for face-to-face communication.
Compared to the past, it is now easier, cheaper and more convenient to communicate with people, wherever they may be. Technologies such as instant messaging, email, or VOIP (e.g. Skype) have transformed the ways in which we communicate with each other. Thirty years ago, getting in touch with someone in a different country was difficult and frequently expensive. Today, I can take my phone out of my pocket and contact people all over the world at the push of a button.
While technology may have made it easier for people to communicate, it has not improved connections and relationships between people in any meaningful way. Email, instant messaging software or social media websites can never replace face-to-face contact, because so much communication is non-verbal. We rely on body language, facial expressions and other subtle cues to understand others. In a text message or an email, or even with video chat, those signals are lost. Connection between people depends on true communication, and true communication is only possible when people talk face-to-face.
Digital technology has undoubtedly changed how we communicate, and in many ways this is a positive thing. Being able to keep in touch with friends and family in other cities or countries is a great advantage. However, the ways in which we connect and form relationships have not changed substantively; we need face-to-face contact to form meaningful connections with others, and current technology is no substitute for that.