Being quiet and cool

happy messagersThere are a number of studies that show younger people connecting more via instant messaging and SMS than other forms of communication. The Digital Chosunilbo reports that this transition has covered Korea under a veil of silence:

If in an age of near-ubiquitous communication people have become paradoxically quiet, it is because means of communication that replace the spoken word, like chat programs and text messengers, are cheap, convenient to use and accessible everywhere. There are people who say they could live comfortably without saying a word all day, and who send so many SMS and chat online so much that sometimes they find it awkward to talk.

There are also those who claim that the internet is making us withdraw socially from those around us, with communications that are less emotionally rich than face-to-face contact. This article provides one of the first theories of why messaging might be doing the same thing:

Yonsei University sociologist Kim Ho-gi says young-generation “cool” means a preference for writing over speech. “Speech is loaded with feeling, and because young people prefer communication styles that convey meaning simply and clearly while keeping their own emotions in check, they like communicating through text messages.”

Most of the research in this area suggests that those crazy kids are doing it because they can have multiple conversations simultaneously; if this article is correct, and indeed we message-to-be-cool, I’d have to agree that we’re headed in a socially scary direction. The emotional effects of messaging definitely warrent some more attention (via Smart Mobs).

5 thoughts on “Being quiet and cool

  1. Cam, I’m no expert but I think the Korean context is totally different from the American one. In the US it’s easy to go through a day without human contact without much effort but in Korea it’s close to impossible. Family, friends, people, traffic, everyone is in your face all the time. I think maybe SMS or IMing provides a moment of relief and space from all these demands to be social. Emotionally Koreans can also be more expressive than people in the US. For ex. there aren’t the same stigmas that prevent guys from showing affection to each other. Men hug men, etc etc. Lots of body and mind rubbing going on over there.

    In the end, it seems a little dangerous to apply these sociological studies so broadly outside of the unique local environment they emerge. The US needs their own study and draw their own conclusions about what’s going on. And also figure out why men are so averse to hugging each other out here. Put the computers away and let’s all just show each other a little more loving!

  2. It’s odd when some generally well-mannered businessman breaks for a phone call during a lunch meeting, don’t ya think. I’ve witnessed this social faux pas so many times, and in other contexts as well: during family dinners, face-2-face discussions, class, et cetera.

    I guess the only thing that irks me about relying on electronic methods for communication is the potential to lose touch with common courtesy, and becoming a society of the rude, self-involved and un-emotive. There’s even an eerie resemblence to the protocol of political correctness, with a reliance on e-mail and SMS as the future mouthpiece of the human–it relegates inflection to characters and sentence-structure assumptions!

  3. Hello. I’m a little confused. I was looking up scuppernongs, and I stumbled on this site. Is this a personal webpage or what? Parts of it seem pretty cerebral, which I like. And parts of it seem pretty silly, which I also like. I also enjoy the setup, fonts, pictures, etc. Basically, I don’t know what this is that I’m looking at, but I like it. I think if I had designed a site it would resemble this. That’s all.

  4. I do think messaging has a good use however I do think it will withdraw society in general and eventually we will never need to leave our own homes.. After all, TV began to do this years ago. people prefer to watch the tube instead of getting off of their ass to go outside and socialize. it is brainless and easier.

    I run a small company with several employees all over the world. It has been several months and I still have not spoke to one of these people over the phone. my whole company is run via instant messenger.. it works.. but it takes forever.. I often wonder if phone calls would create more time in my day.

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