by Leanne Labetti
Being born into the 21st century is both a blessing and a curse. Since the time our parents were born, we have made enormous advances in technology, medicine, and science. Social media has become a part of our daily lives and has influenced the way we communicate, both personally and globally. Our society is based on a system of convenience, which is easily accessible to us through our smartphones, tablets, and computers. With tools such as spell check, auto correct, search engines, databases, Microsoft Word, and even websites such as easybib.com, we don’t have to worry so much about our grammar, language skills, or basic citation procedures. However, with this accessibility comes laziness and a lack of concern to learn these skills for ourselves.
The way we communicate through technology is entirely different than the way we communicate face-to-face. Most, if not all, smartphones have auto correct, auto capitalization, and a long list of emojis to choose from. We have subconsciously created an entire new lingo of acronyms and pictures that we use when communicating through text messages. For example, we can have an entire conversation with someone using emojis instead of words, or using acronyms such as “LOL” or “TTYL” without ever hesitating to understand what the other person is trying to communicate to us. These tools, as mentioned earlier, make it extremely easy to communicate with others quickly and “efficiently.” However, if someone my age were asked to sit down to write out a formal report, a correct works cited page, or even a letter by not using any of those tools, they might find it extremely difficult. We are so used to not needing to put extra effort into checking our spelling or grammatical mistakes, or creating our own works cited page, that we become flustered and unsure of ourselves when asked to do those things without the help of tools.
Even in the workplace, electronic communication has taken the place of verbal communication. According to Forbes.com, studies show that more than 50% of the workforce by 2020 will prefer to use instant messaging as the primary means of communication rather than stopping by an office to have a verbal confrontation. This is due to the “generational gap” between employers and employees who are both trying to “manage to a new set of expectations and norms (Tardanico, 2012).” Now while applying for jobs, knowledge of technology and blogging skills is considered a norm and even an expectation.
Despite the amazing things that technology can do for us as a society, it is still important to be able to function correctly and efficiently without it. Without technology as a readily available tool, we sometimes feel unsure about ourselves and our skills. With this said, taking the time to learn the correct way to communicate without those extra tools can be beneficial. This includes, but isn’t limited to, knowing how to use the correct language depending on who you are communicating with, being able to efficiently create a works cited page, and learning correct grammar and basic spelling.
Luckily, there are a few ways that technology has a positive impact on our communication and education. For example, www.class-central.com offers a list of free MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses from universities around the world that focus on improving writing skills. Also, simply by reading more frequently we can “exercise” our brains and expand our vocabulary. Even more simply than that, turning off our auto correct and spell checks for intermediate periods of time forces us to review our writing.