7th February 2013
Going into this assignment, I thought I had a general understanding of how people would tend to communicate with one another by means of verbal, non-verbal, and everything in between. I did not, however, truly take in to consideration the extent to which clothes, hair, and overall appearance can have in regards to how we communicate with one another on a daily basis. Safe to say, when I actually stopped and paid attention to the finer details involved in a one on one conversation, there are many unique ways people can convey their words and ideas.
Starting off with the way people dress; before engaging in conversation with someone, it is very easy to form quick judgments about that person based purely off of how they present themselves. People who dressed “well” conveyed far more confidence and self-respect than those people who wore clothes you’d normally wear to bed. Very minute, seemingly insignificant details had a far greater impact on me when I actually took the time to pay close attention.
The verbal aspect of communication that we encounter countless times a day is often misunderstood. The words people say, tone of their voice, and many other characteristics often go unnoticed when we are not consciously aware and paying close attention. For me, that is the case quite often apparently. Whenever I was speaking to a friend or fellow classmate, my style of speaking was much less formal and more casual and friendly. Whenever I spoke to an adult or teacher, I noticed how much more formal and how much etiquette I develop immediately. This did not come to me as earth-shattering news, but it was made quite clear how when the audience in which I am speaking in front of changes, I change as well.
I, personally, am naturally a very shy, quiet, introverted person who does not look people in the eye as confidently as the status quo would recommend. Although I was also well aware of this quality in myself, I paid extra close attention to how eye contact was conveyed to me when I was someone’s audience of conversation. For adults, direct eye contact is far more stringent than it is with fellow classmates and friends. The use of cell phones is perhaps the greatest distraction from making eye contact for kids today which was something I noticed tremendously throughout the entire day. Whenever I stepped foot in an elevator, it was not uncommon to have multiple people staring like robots at their cell phone screens without blinking. No eye contact. No acknowledgement of fellow human existence is made which as detached and unfriendly as it may seem, that is not an uncommon scenario to observe. I am also guilty of overuse of technology, especially in “awkward social situations”. Being someone who suffers a self-diagnosed small case of social anxiety, my cell phone becomes my best friend to avoid awkward encounters and especially to avoid feeling uncomfortable when in public. Granted I do use my cell phone as a scapegoat much of the day, I do use text messaging far more than I use actual phone calls which is much more personal.
For the one hour I disconnected myself from all technology, I wandered over to Boulder Café for some food and immediately felt a bit uncomfortable. Without my cellphone, I had nowhere to turn or hide, but rather had to choose between increased social interaction, or awkward hiding and avoiding eye contact. The hour of no technology was by no means disastrous, but it was enlightening. When you’re the only one, more or less, in a group of people without their cell phone on them constantly texting and checking twitter, you become much more aware of how isolated and lonely human beings have become. Although that sounds quite dramatic and overreaching, I’m afraid it’s not far off from the truth.