What’s Happening to Communication?

What’s happening to personal communication? Will Facebook, Twitter, and texting limit the exchange of complex ideas?

I read in this morning’s paper that Facebook is aiming to make email obsolete in personal communication. Supposedly we are too busy to exchange long personal email and phone calls. Instead, we will tweet, email, and text short bits, and send all these communications to our Facebook page at the same time in a sort of one-click publishing  communication.

I’m wondering what has happened to thinking and real heart-to-heart or mind-to-mind communication. Must all our thoughts be reduced to 140 characters more or less? Perhaps the ugliness on the political scene is related to posting propaganda and talking points in 30 second sound bites and tweets thrown out at the world to whomever will listen instead of engaging each other in thoughtful face-to-face conversations.

Perhaps we do the same thing in personal conversations with family and friends. We laugh at the Zits comic strip as family members text each other, or text someone else while someone in the same room is attempting to have a conversation. But it really isn’t funny. People are tuning out those who are present in favor of those who are absent.

Supposedly the schools are trying to teach critical  thinking skills, but where do you use them in a Tweet or a Facebook post? Complex thoughts need complex sentences. Have our attention spans become so short we haven’t time for complex thoughts? For more than surface communication? No wonder people  cannot solve problems or reach consensus. It takes more than a few Tweets.

Guess I’m a Social Networking Junkie

I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in a week on Twitter from those in digital education about the new face of education and how teachers are being encouraged to use computers in their classrooms.

“Twitter is limited to messaging, keeping people on the site an average of just eight minutes per month. Facebook offers far more diversions, with users spending an average of nearly three hours per month on the site, according to Nielsen.” by Verne Kopytoff, Chronicle Staff Writer from Facebook moving into Twitter territory posted 3/14/09

I’ve always wanted to be above average at something, but it’s hard to believe that so many Twitter users average only eight minutes a day, let alone a month. Maybe this is because I’m still in my Twitter honeymoon period, learning the ropes, and finding the right followers and people to follow. I want to connect with home school families and school educators in order to see what’s happening in schools of all types. I’m hoping I can cut down to eight hours a week on Twitter.

Facebook is a different animal altogether. I use it to connect with people I actually know or have gotten to know on Facebook groups. It’s an easy way to keep up with long-distance friends and the everyday lives of those I see once a week. It’s a great way to share photos with people who might want to see them. And it’s  way to let friends know which causes are important to you. I used to spend about two hours a week there, but since Twitter, I’ve cut down to maybe 30 minutes a week.  So maybe I’m approaching average there.

I have to admit I’ve changed my mind about Twitter. I used to think it was where teens kept each other posted on what they were doing all day. There is some of that, but I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in a week on Twitter from those in digital education about the new face of education and how teachers are being encouraged to use computers in their classrooms. I get updates on CPSIA developments, and get links to terrific blogs and videos I would never have found any other way. Come to think of it, it’s not Twitter itself that I’m spending all this time on — it’s all those links it leads to. If you haven’t begun to tweet yet, try it.  You can follow me as barbsbooks and be among the first to find out about sales and new products for educators who are still using books. I’d love to network with you.