Human interactions

With the proliferation of technologies, one would think that these technological and digital tools would be used to gain an understanding of other cultures and other people, meet people all over the world, maintain and strengthen familial relationships, communicate effectively with others, and help people to become more socially skillful. However, some technological advances cause people to be distracted, overly stressed, and increasingly isolated. Many people are involved in an abundant number of relationships through technology, but sometimes the quantity of these associations leaves people feeling qualitatively empty[1]. Obviously, technology has had a profound impact on what it means to be social, what it means to interact with others in a healthy manner.

An important factor affecting human interactions in the digital world is the “language” used in these interactions. While online technology force-feeds our brain with a constant diet of fast-moving sounds and images, it simultaneously reduces our capacity of people to “read between the lines”. Nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language are essential facets of communication that facilitate comprehension and lessen the risk of misunderstanding. Taken into account that a large part of today’s interactions, especially among teenagers, is reduced to the bare bones of sound, icons and short-cut language, it is certain that the risks of miscommunication and misunderstanding are higher, thus affecting our interactions online.

Emoticons [ :) ]and emojis [Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για emoji ], for example, have become so firmly ensconced in day-to-day communication streams that in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries even chose an emoji known as the "Face with Tears of Joy" as its Word Of The Year. On the other hand, they offer little scope for sensing meaning or discerning patterns in communication, which are so important in developing digital citizenship competences such as listening and observing skills, and empathy. In a nuanceless world, a joke or misunderstanding can very easily escalate into conflict, violence and bullying. At another level, when children are unable to see the nuanced version of a situation, it is much more difficult for them to hypothesize on the consequences of their own actions.


Reflection corner

1. Think about how technology affects your social life and social skills. Think about television, the Internet and the social media. What would you say?

2. Swiss tennis player Roger Federer uses emoji frequently on Twitter and has even described an entire day in 43 emoji. Try to describe your day so far with emojis and emoticons. What is the result? Does it really reflect your day? If not, why not?

3. Think of the different meanings the following three emojis have for an older person and a teenager:

a. Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για aubagine emoji(banned from the Instagram)

b.         Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για peach emoji

c.        Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Person With Folded Hands emoji

How their communication and interaction would be affected? Why?