Are Gadgets Making Us Awkward?


I like text messaging and email. It is quick… and it makes me feel like I am in control. I can conserve my relational and emotional energy – something very important for an introvert. But are those tools making me more shy and less willing to initiate more personal forms of communication?

I stumbled upon an article from last year entitled, “Gadgets blamed for making the world a shier place” from The Raw Feed, a technology and culture blog. Here is the post:

Psychologist, Harvard Business School researcher and etiquette columnist Robin Abrahams said in a recent interview that cell phones, iPods and PCs are casing a worldwide epidemic of shyness. She said nearly 50% of people say they’re shy in social situations, up from about 40% “in the past.”

“People shop online, they listen to their iPods rather than the radio — and they e-mail or text each other rather than talk. What we have is an increasingly complex social environment, combined with less practice at dealing with it because of technology.”

I can picture you rolling your eyes right now… thinking, “Please… we communicate more now! I am tired of people trying to find something or someone to blame for everything. Now we are blaming our cell phones!!”

I hear you, I hear you. I agree. But I am curious about this idea…. I have worked with teens for more than fifteen years now, and without question technology has radically changed the way they communicate over the last decade.

It does seem to me that more and more teens seem to be unfamiliar and restless with face-to-face and voice-to-voice communication. Obviously my work with teens predates our compulsive cell-phone-as-an-appendage, texting-more-than-blinking era. And I know that talking with most teens is awkward because THEY are awkward… uncomfortable and unsettled with who they are. Insecure. (Come to think of it, so am I…) Yes… developing social skills is part of their development.

Is our obsession with technology impeding social development? I am sure it is helping in some ways, and hurting in others. I wonder, as one who mentors and works with teens, will I need to focus more and more on helping them learn how to interact with each other in-person? …to learn how to be “a community”?  What do you think?

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2 Comments on “Are Gadgets Making Us Awkward?”

  1. Brandon Says:

    i think you’re onto something.

  2. dbrown1225 Says:

    On one hand I think it makes people better at the English language. You choose your words carefully and you have a limited space in which to express your thoughts. I have appreciation for something that forces people to think about what they’re saying.

    On the other hand…so much communication is left out. I text like a madman, but I know that it’s far from a perfect way of communicating with people and many people (including myself) have become too dependent on it.

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