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November 15, 2010 / Amy Bradney-George

Out the door and onto the net?

 

Are calls being substituted by texts and social media sites? Photo: Alton

Last week I was saying goodbye to one of my friends and, anxious that we may not see each other again before I travel, I asked “can we catch up before I leave?”. The reply was a sincere “of course!”, followed by the jarring phrase “I’ll Facebook you.”

I’m sorry, when did that become a primary means of contacting a friend?

When I brought this up with a mutual friend she said Facebook was the main way our friend got in touch with people. Ok, I can kind of accept that, it’s not just me, but my initial reaction got me thinking: how does new media affect relationships for different people?

A couple of days later I read an article by John Birmingham about the death of the phone call. He makes some very valid points about convenience, particularly when it comes to texting, emailing or “facebooking” someone. The comments overwhelmingly lean towards tossing out the phone call and using some other means to contact people. Is that really what we should be doing?

Birmingham used journalism as an example. When you’re interviewing someone face-to-face or over the phone, you have to write madly to get it all down and make sure it’s all accurate. Then you have to transcribe it, then work it into the article. If you email the questions the talent can reply when they want, with well composed answers, and you can cut-and-paste without all that effort. But is that better?

I think I was lucky with my journalism lecturers at uni. They made sure we did either in-person or phone interviews whenever possible, and I appreciate that so much. Sure, it is unequivocally easier to email someone, but the answers are not in the moment, and you can’t gauge the tone as well.

That’s the thing with written responses for any thing, you can’t tell what the person feels and that can lead to misunderstandings. Is it just me that finds myself analysing emails and text messages for the meaning behind the words?

I’ll admit I’m harsh when it comes to communication. If I give someone my phone number, I expect a call (or I will call them). If they text me instead, I tend to take my time replying, or don’t reply at all. Yes, it’s brutal, but that’s the way I work. At least with a phone call you can say everything you need to and leave it at that. It’s more immediate, it’s more personal and far more direct.

So where do we go from here? Most people seem to be turning away from “old” forms of communication, is that progress? Is it progress for the sake of progress? And, personal preferences aside, can these different means of communicating complement each other?

It seems every few months someone is touting the death of something – newspapers, magazines, dvds, the cinema, cds, etc etc – are they really dying?

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4 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. k-hodd / Nov 20 2010 12:15 am

    print is dying/ dead… unfortunately everything is viral these days

    • Amy Bradney-George / Nov 20 2010 12:18 am

      Oh you just wait til I get time to respond to that thought!

      • k-hodd / Nov 22 2010 1:27 am

        lol and reply you will… but i mean the times is starting to wind down the printing of their magazine, prefering to use internet and phone apps to deliver news… it won’t be too long until all the others follow… brisbanetimes.com.au is exclusively this way, has never printed a single newspaper and they have a massive readership.

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