How has technology affected communication?

January 10, 2017 (updated May 19, 2021) Created by fonial Digitization

How the digital age influences our way of communicating and what the consequences are

Digitization is an influence that runs through all areas of our life. This fact is of course not new. What remains interesting, however, is what specific effects this has and will have on us. Our communication behavior is an exemplary example of living conditions influenced by digitization. Many fear particularly potential negative consequences. But do these really arise?

Communication changes with technological developments

Language is our constant medium. However, the communication channels for this are subject to constant change and have become more diverse. This is evident both in our private and professional areas. Telephony is a wonderful example of how communication has changed over time. A lot has definitely happened since the development of the first telephone sets in the late 19th century to today's telecommunications via modern cell phones or telephoning via the cloud. In addition to face-to-face conversations, we have started communicating with texts, videos and pictures. Communication is also indirect, especially via social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Language remains the core of our communication

Nonetheless, acoustic speech communication remains relevant as part of our communication. Not only that. It gives us quick ways to communicate. After all, important things can still be clarified quickly over the phone. Text messages, for example, take more time in this case and leave more room for misunderstanding. Direct language communication not only allows us to react directly, but also to correctly interpret what is said based on the pitch or in a personal conversation with the help of body language. We will therefore always fall back on direct communication, also outside of the digital world. We benefit from the variety and the possibility of being able to select the right communication channels depending on the situation and not being limited to a certain form of contact. In many cases, this makes our communication much more efficient. We are always looking for new forms of communication. Proof of this is, for example, the modern trend towards learning foreign languages, which in turn is better made possible by digitization.

Conclusion: Digitization influences the way we use our language, but not that we do it in principle. That means that our communication with each other has not stopped, it has just become more diverse. And somehow that leads us back to the basis of our communication or as communication scientist Paul Watzlawick once put it so appropriately: We cannot not communicate.


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