Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Are we dumbing it down?

Our online conversations aren’t that simple

Almost inarguably, technology is getting smarter.

AI can write essays, the TikTok algorithm knows us better than we know ourselves and our word processors are suggesting the next parts of our sentences (thanks, by the way.)

But in return, is communication via technology getting dumber?

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle wrote in a New York Times column that when we opt to communicate online as opposed to face-to-face “we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.”

Maybe at some crude, rudimentary point on the timeline of technology, this was true. People were still trying to firm a slender grasp on the wild concept of sending emails, and texts took over a minute just to type out “b home soon, tlk 2 u l8r.”

Turkle argued that because people spent so much time online, we have become accustomed to the “volume and velocity of online connections,” and in turn have come to expect almost instant responses — all in turn for quality of content. 

It’s true; we spend an incredible amount of time with our faces glued to one or more screens. According to Data Reportal, the average American spends nearly seven hours looking at a screen daily.

But now, in an age of spell check, video editing, Zoom calls and the infamous ChatGPT, is it  really fair to say technological communication is “dumb” anymore.

While some people, especially in younger generations, have proven to struggle in face-to-face communication, they contribute to online conversations immensely.

Creating content online, either via typed text, video or audio (with the exception of live streaming) allows creators to start over, edit or delete parts of their message to ensure it communicates exactly what they intend it to.

Sharing content online also allows creators to spend a virtually unlimited amount of time curating their message. How many people are spending hours to make themselves appear more simple-minded?

Meanwhile, people each day are cursing their own tongue for saying something they didn’t truly mean — and there’s no backspace when you’re speaking to someone in realtime.

Although our online connections have continued to hinder our in-person conversational skills, our online conversations have become not only more complex in recent years, but increasingly powerful.

Pew Research Center said that about half of Americans receive at least some of their news from social media.

Because the internet is so widely available and popular, especially with the use of social media platforms, citizen journalism has become far more popular and engaging than ever before.

Additionally, because the nature of the internet allows people to communicate without having to show their face or even their real name, this encourages people to participate in conversations they normally wouldn’t have.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the #MeToo movement. 

Although sexual harassment and assault have been an issue for centuries, and although the movement officially began in 2006, it didn’t gain popularity until the issue was taken to Twitter in 2017. 

And despite racial inequity having plagued the United States since its founding, the Black Lives Matter movement has been arguably one of the largest social movements demanding racial justice since the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

The ground-zero of the Black Lives Matter movement? You guessed it, social media.

Gone are the days of dial-up internet, cell phones with telephone keypads and the constant worry your computer will crash before you saved your paper.

Technology has clearly evolved, and so has the way we communicate through it, but our communication is definitely not dumber. 

While our in-person conversations are sometimes awkward at best, online connections are flourishing with readily available information and technological advances — you just have to know how to use it. 

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