Picture talking face to face. Nicholas Dantuono,

Picture this: You’re at a coffee shop snapchatting your friends when your dream guy or girl walks up to your table and asks you out on a date. Something so simple, yet so foreign in today’s modern society. How do you reply? A simple yes or no can seem like so much more when you have to say it in person rather than through your phone. Social media is currently on the rise and becoming the most popular way to communicate. But, could there possibly be an unfavorable connection between social media and people’s ability to communicate effectively? Communication is what brings people together. It’s how we build relationships, share ideas, and fix problems. The absence of social cues and personal connections in social media, could lead to poor communication skills.When communicating through a screen you’re not able to see the typical social cues that would arise during a face to face conversation. According to Knapp & Hall, when people are talking face to face-to-face we are able to understand the context of the situation from vocal and visual cues. The non-verbal parts of communication, “facial expressions, eye contact, etc.” are just as important as the verbal parts of communication (New York Behavioral Health). Without social cues, there’s always the risk of miscommunication between the parties, and can also make it harder to understand and identify social cues when talking face to face. Nicholas Dantuono, a college student studying social media, agrees with the idea that social skills are key, and also points out the effect this has on adolescents. Throughout adolescence is when people build fundamental social skills, but kids are choosing to interact through social media thus limiting their face-to-face conversations. If kids and teens don’t cut down their social media use, then they won’t have good communication skills in the future (Dantuono). Social media is very popular amongst kids and teens; they’ve grown up with this technology, so being on their phone 24/7 is normal. This limits their opportunity to build social skills since they’re not interacting face-to-face with friends. There could also be long term effects because kids and teens won’t be familiar with social cues and possibly unable to to converse with others. A professor from Princeton University wrote in The Atlantic opposing this idea by claiming that social media doesn’t rid us of face-to-face connections. People’s conversations are not being replaced by social media, but rather they are evolving. “Human connectivity” is as steadfast as ever because people are able to talk in different ways (Tufekci). In other words, Tufekci is saying that social media is not taking the place of regular face-to-face conversations, but rather enhancing our communication in new ways. For example, snapchat allows its users to call one another through the app creating a new type of face-to-face communication. It’s not actually in person, but through the camera and phone you are still able to see the other person’s face and hear their voice. Nevertheless, this technology can never replicate a real conversation. Sometimes the connection is spotty, making the picture grainy. Sometimes the other person’s voice cuts out causing you to miss half of what they just said. Furthermore, a video call can’t reciprocate the intimacy of having another person in front of you. While a video call is a good idea, it’s not the real deal. Social media not only rids us of social cues, but also makes communication less personal. Talking face-to-screen can take away the personal connection people normally feel when talking face-to-face. The Child Mind Institute states that the main difference of communicating online compared to face-to-face is that “the most personal—and sometimes intimidating—aspects of communication” are gone. You can’t see how your words affect the other person, so “less is at stake”  (Ehmke). If you don’t have the ability to see the other person’s social cues and reactions, the personal connection you would normally feel in person is gone. A conversation deprived of intimacy can make face-to-face conversations more intimidating because you’re not used to putting your feelings out there. It can also make to form relationships in the future. If you haven’t practiced conveying your feelings, it might be hard to connect with the people around you. BBC observed that “…employers are finding that their young hires are awkward in their interpersonal interactions and ill-prepared to collaborate effectively with teammates and develop relationships with clients” (Causey). Because a lot of the younger generation has done its communication through social media, it’s affecting their ability to create close relationships at work. They’re not used to the affection that a face-to-face connection requires. So in return, they’re struggling to build the necessary relationships that their job expects. This is just one other example of how communicating through social media also has negative long term effects. However Tufekci, from The Atlantic, reminds us that not everyone is an extrovert. Social media is often a way for introverts to become more comfortable communicating. Face-to-face conversations may be uncomfortable for them and talking online is a way to seek human contact ” (Tufekci). Tufekci is suggesting that social media’s lack of closeness could actually work in favor of introverted people. Face-to-face conversations can be intimidating and for those who don’t have a lot of confidence, social media may be the break that they’re looking for. Moreover, Tufekci reminds us that communication doesn’t come easy to everyone; it’s not that shy people don’t want to build relationships with other people, it may just be that they’re too scared. Social media gives introverts a chance to be more social. It’s also a good way to help shy people take that first step, but if people only use social media to communicate, there’s a chance they won’t be able to talk offline. Social media doesn’t give people the chance to practice experiencing intimacy, thus when it comes to moving the relationship off the screen, introverted people may still struggle in the end. Ultimately, social media has the ability to create an invisible barrier between the people talking, ridding their conversation of the personal connection they would have felt if they were talking face-to-face. It is important to be aware that social media not only lacks the ability for people to communicate face-to-face, but can also diminish the personal connection between the people talking. Face-to-screen can’t fully do the conversation justice because people are unable to see those non-verbal signs that help give the conversation context. Social media also can’t recreate the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation. Without social cues and personal connections, our communication skills will likely be below-average affecting our relationships now and in the future. Ultimately what’s at stake here is people’s ability to connect. Communication is the thread that binds people together, and if we are unable to communicate, our relationships may suffer. So again, picture yourself at a coffee shop. Your dream date has just asked you out. How will you reply?