By Rachel Rooney, Toppel Peer Advisor
All of the technology in the world today—computers, smart phones, tablets—have great benefits. However, I’ve noticed that it is changing our ability to communication with one another. In one sense, we are able to communicate more globally with people all around the world. And we are able to communicate easier—a simple text gets the message across. However, with all of this I can’t help feeling as though we are losing something. I’ve made an observation on when I am standing in line for an event or in an elevator with other people or in a room for a meeting with people I don’t know. I’ve noticed that people who don’t know each other don’t talk to one another. Instead, we pull out our cell phones. And even that is making us talk less; calling each other is out of fashion, texting is in, but that doesn’t mean we are communicating better.
When we do interviewing workshops at Toppel, we ask the famous “tell me about yourself” question. We advise students to answer it the following way: state your name, where you are from, your degree, your year, your leadership experience, and why you think you are a good fit for the job you are applying for. This is known as an elevator pitch. Basically, what you would tell someone if you had from the top floor of an elevator to the ground floor. And if the someone person was the CEO of your dream company.
I also think that we are at risk for losing something greater than networking; we are losing our stories. There is the history of communication; it began with talking. Before people could write information down or before typewriters or computers were invented, there were words. So the next time you are in a place with unfamiliar people, take the time to get to know them. There are over 7 billion people in this world; you are not going to get to know everyone, so be grateful for the chance to have the people in your life that you do have. You have so much to gain. Over the summer, I worked with college age students from all over the world—Japan, China, Spain, Colombia, Malaysia, Moldova, and America. There was a little bit of the language barrier, but I took the time to learn some key phrases in each of the different languages. I will know some of the amazing people I met there for the rest of my life. Gif Fach, for example is how you pronounce “how are you” in Romanian. University of Miami is the most diverse university in the United States and has many students come to study on exchanges. Study abroad is also a great way to network with people around the world.
I am not here to discredit technology as a form of networking or communicating, but I think we are starting to use it a little too much. People are addicted to their phones. If I asked you if you could live 48 hours without your phone, would you be able to? I think many of you would say no. We don’t have to live without our phones, but you should be able to put them down, especially when you are talking to people. The truth is that you don’t need to be on technology all the time. Take a break and talk to people.
I was inspired to write this post, by an article I read in Forbes and by one in Riskology. The Forbes article is on the importance of small talk and the Riskology article is on the importance of talking to strangers.
For an interesting article by Medical Health on how cell phones are affecting students, read here: