As I was recently reflecting on the lockdown period of the coronavirus pandemic, I wondered how different our experiences would have been without connection through use of technology.

This has lead me to a relaxed exploration of some of the influences technology has had over the way we, as individuals, communicate. I aim to focus on the key areas of communication that are provided by mobile phones and laptops, and further study how this affected my lockdown experience.

closeup of (me) typing abbreviations on phone

Messaging…

Sending text messages were first made possible in 1992. Since then, I believe they have become a less popular way of communication in the “traditional” sense, as messages are more likely to be sent through alternative applications such as WhatsApp or social media platforms. I myself am not a huge fan of sending messages in general, preferring phone calls instead. However, they are ideal for sending links or quick notes where a call would be unnecessary. Perhaps because of social media’s influence, which I will discuss further on, it’s become quite common to share an image or meme over writing a great deal of words.

In some ways when it comes to the words I do use, messaging has made me lazy. I use abbreviations for certain phrases and along with this, there is auto-correct. This combination has definitely had a negative affect on my spelling which isn’t a problem as such but more so just irritating. It’s difficult also to covey tone which can become frustrating, especially with such a small limit to the amount appropriate to send at once.

When it comes it instant reactions however, emojis have their own use for this and I think that’s quite interesting to look at. Very rarely have I actually laughed aloud while sending the crying laughing face. In fact, when something does make me laugh out, I normally put “wow that actually made me laugh out loud.” And yet we all know what those facial emojis truly mean and where it’s appropriate to use them. It’s rather strange when you think about it but it has become a normality.

No matter what the interaction, it can be better than nothing when meeting arrangements are difficult and schedules don’t align. Being able to send a message without requiring any urgency can allow parties to respond when is best individually suitable and maintains that connection. Although this is convenient, it can be viewed as being too contactable. If there is a sense of expectancy in replying within a certain time frame from one party, it may be seen as rude not to oblige. This makes me a little uneasy as having no social media, I’m not naturally checking my phone very frequently. I also believe that if something is important then a call is much more straight forward, which leads me to my next heading.

(me) smiling at a family zoom call

Phone calls and video chats…

Since moving away from home, I find that phoning family members fairly often is a part of my routine. Even if one of us is in the middle of a straightforward task, it’s easy to put the phone on speaker and still feel connected. Occasionally, I have given someone a call for a chat if I’m alone running errands to keep me company and as an excuse to catch up.

Video calls are one step further and since the start of lockdown, my mum’s side of the family have been doing Zoom calls once a week which has brought us all together. This is something we had to schedule in order to keep it up but has been incredibly rewarding. Especially during this time, it is still more convenient than meeting up in person and is something to look forward to each week.

I can also see how useful this feature would be for business and work related discussions. Having the benefit of facial expressions can be a way of clarifying someone’s understanding of something. Not only this but it could keep everyone more focused on the task at hand and aid in any demonstrations that may be required.

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closeup of google search on (my) screen

The Internet…

The creation of the Internet has allowed for social media platforms to thrive. Of course not everyone uses these platforms, myself included, but in knowing their popularity I thought it only appropriate to discuss some of its affects.

Social media provides instant communication to a wide audience. Therefore, there is an ability to form online communities and connect with like-minded people. Campaigns in particular have flourished on these platforms, using it as a tool to spread awareness and supportive messages. However there is a similarity with texting here in terms of potential misinterpretations. As discussed on my cancel culture post, this can lead to some devastating consequences.

News has also become more accessible through the Internet and perhaps been too overexposing. This level of communication, knowing so much so quickly, I personally don’t find to be healthy and can make me quite anxious. Luckily, this is something that an individual can control to an extent and so I don’t think it is a big problem. The bigger issue would be the type of news that is being promoted. Gossip is another form of communication through news online and this is toxic in my opinion.

There is a lot more I could discuss about the Internet but I will move forward to allow for greater discussion at a later date.

closeup of (my) phone on call

The lockdown period…

I have greatly benefited from using technology as a tool for communication these last five months. It’s because of the video record feature on mobile phones that the contributors of “Lockdown Life” were able to record and share their stories. It’s then also down to social media platforms that we were able to share it online and promote the series. This did my mental health the world of good by keeping me occupied and creative.

In a way, this time has brought me closer to others as there is a natural inclination to check up on them. It’s through all of these methods above that I am able to do so. Perhaps the only great downside was the level of negative news that was being pushed so much that it could get quite overwhelming at times. Thankfully when this did happen it was easy enough to switch off and take a break.

close up of question mark on (my) notebook page

Final thoughts…

I believe that technology has had a huge influence over the way we communicate. Especially during the pandemic, I think it has helped us all feel a little less distant and has overall been an asset to improve mental health. There was great loss during the pandemic and I feel so fortunate that I didn’t lose anyone close to me and that I could use technology as a tool to stay positive.

As with everything, there are always a mixture of positive and negative affects but despite the downsides, I feel grateful to use it as a means of communication. How could I not when it’s the reason I am able to share my thoughts here? There is a lot more to explore with this topic of technology and it’s something I’d like to continue in future posts.

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What do you think?

Don’t be shy – let me know your thoughts in the comments!

There are so many aspects I left out when it comes to the relationship of technology and communication and so would be keen to read your thoughts on this subject. Perhaps you had a different experience during lockdown or found alternative benefits I didn’t mention!

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