Communication has been the touchstone of civilization - from cave paintings and speech, to the formulation of standardised alphabets and writing. It is, perhaps, our greatest achievement, and allowed us to evolve as a society in a way which would be totally unimaginable without it. But... Ah, there's always a 'but'.
But in the past twenty years, we've seen a change to the way we communicate - technology has become the king, to the point where it sometimes feels like we're living on the cusp of science-fiction. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to communication. In the beginning, tech simply reinvented existing forms of communication. Why send a letter when you can send an email, right? Why call your friend when you can just as easily text them? It's all the same idea, only far quicker. The immediate back-and-forth of face to face conversations could be carried out using instant messaging.
Instant - that's the key word. We've grown accustomed now to communication which is rapid-fire, without the need to wait for, say, the postman's arrival. That speed could perhaps means we no longer truly think about what we're saying - certainly some have tried to argue that point, considering the cost and time involved in sending a letter. You sit down, and because you know it may be some time before you do it again you write several pages detailing the comings and goings off your life, you buy envelopes and a stamp and walk to the post box - and because of that you want those letters to mean something. It's intimate, yes, but it's a slow process. That's why they call it snail-mail.
With the arrival of such swift communication came two changes to the way we communicate with others - abbreviations such as 'LOL' and 'M8' and the like allowed us to speed up how we talk, practically creating a new, and constantly evolving language. It also heralded the rise of visual communication, not just with 'smileys' to relay facial expressions lacking in text-based discussions, but also the shared humour of internet memes. Camera-based apps like Skype, SnapChat and WhatsApp even lets users share images and videos. Thanks to the smartphone, you don't even need to waste time signing in as you did with emails - just click the app and it's ready to start; got a photo you want to share? Just press the share button.
One of the main reasons we've seen this rise has been ever-decreasing costs - texts are cheaper than calls; now apps like WhatsApp and Twitter let users chat for nothing but the price of a Wi-Fi connection or mobile phone data plan. Now it costs pretty much nothing to send a message on WhatsApp, but how much does a first-class stamp cost these days? It's become, then, a thousand times easier and cheaper to chat with your pals - and as such, the rise is only set to continue.
These days if you're using Facebook on your phone, you must also download their Messenger app which almost mimics SMS. Same for the Xbox app, which pings messages straight to your phone like a text. If you want to hang out with friends and watch them play video games, you don't all sit on the same couch like the old days. Simply party up with mates on PlayStation or Xbox Live, or watch them gaming on your phone using Twitch. Naysayers might suggest that what we're witnessing is the decline of interaction - and in the physical sense, this may well be true. But that certainly doesn't mean we're becoming insular and isolated. In fact, we're probably communicating far more now than we ever have at any point since we learnt how to talk to each other.
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