Posted by: brittwasko | September 27, 2009

Is social media affecting your communication?

facebook logoNo more are the days of communication made only through face-to-face or phone conversations. With the advent of social media and networking sites, people can communicate through countless means. While the use of these sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, is convenient, it also allows for informal, improper and ungrammatical communication. And many students today are letting those negative attributes influence communication outside their cyberspace, specifically in written papers for classes or face-to-face and phone conversations with professionals. It is fascinating how some twittestudents believe it is acceptable to submit class assignments with written words like:  no (know); luv (love); i (I); 2 (to, two and too); u (you); 2morrow (tomorrow); sry (sorry) and many more. This kind of writing becomes a habit when using social media and networking sites; so much that students forget to proof read their work and do not eliminate words such as those above.

Forgetting How To Speak

Because many people are communicating daily through social media sites, they are forgetting how to effectively communicate verbally with others. It is difficult to witness a conversation between a college student and professional when the student has no ability to carry on an intelligent conversation or make eye contact with the professional. Shying behind a computer screen has weakened students’ confidence, which can ruin their chances to make positive impressions on decision makers. In an article published by a student newspaper at Howard University, the author notes that face-to-face communication is necessary in the real world.

“Interpersonal communication is an art and requires a great amount of skill. Being able to communicate is essential when one is looking for a job, trying to get an override into a class, trying to ask a stranger for directions, or even trying to get good service in a restaurant.”speech bubble

This quote could not be more accurate. Effective communication is necessary in just about every instance where at least two people are involved, and it is even more necessary when networking with professionals. In another article published by a student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, the author highlights how the purpose of Facebook has turned into a way for students to avoid face-to-face communication.

“Text messages, online instant messages, e-mail and, the most notorious, Facebook, were all created to facilitate better communication. Truthfully, these technological tools are ruining the public communication skills of young people, especially in America. Facebook, an online social directory, was created for college students to serve as a way of staying in touch with friends not seen since kindergarten, middle school or high school. However, it has become an outlet for students to avoid personal contact and communicate with people they have never met.”

Why This Matters To PR

What is so interesting about these two articles is that they were both written by college students. This means that some young adults are grasping this concept of social media negatively impacting communication. However, other students are still not understanding how their online habits are transferring to their schoolwork and real world experiences. In public relations specifically, efficient communication is expected. And if someone who is new to a job cannot deliver that communication, he or she will not likely survive in that position.

If a student wants to use social media as a way to escape from formal writing, that is his or her choice. However, it is essential to always separate that form of communication with the types of interaction that affect grades and job opportunities. Otherwise, written and face-to-face communication by students will continue to worsen.

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