Every day we use mobile phones, tablets, laptops, computers, watch TV, listen to the radio. We almost don’t write letters by hand anymore. Nikita Nogovitsyn, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Philosophy of St. Petersburg State University, told about the impact of modern technologies on people’s lives, how people’s perception of reality is changing and what types of communication are promising in our world.
What types of communication did people have first?
Usually, the types of communication are understood as technical means by which people exchange messages. Almost anything can act as a means of communication here: a person’s behavior and his clothes, words, and actions signs left by someone (for example, footprints in the sand). It is quite difficult to guess how the first people communicated. It is generally believed that they most often communicated with gestures and words. But this is only an assumption, and it is based mostly on observations of our behavior. We can recall that most primitive cultures, as well as children, had fantastically developed observation and the ability to see the smallest manifestations of emotions on the face of another person, to feel those thoughts that are “subtler” than gestures and words.
Theoretically, communication is also possible at this level, but we do not know how to do this and, therefore, we are not able to imagine that other people could do this. Most modern students simply use messengers for communication and coursework writing service when they need to submit an academic paper.
How has the development of technologies and means of communication affected the way of life of people and their culture?
For a long time, it was believed that communication methods mainly affect the volume and speed of information transfer. In ancient times, to memorize long texts, people composed poems from them, then writing appeared and allowed to significantly increase the amount of information. Modern computer technologies allow us to bring this volume almost to infinity. Similarly, the period of delivery of a message five hundred years ago was severely limited by the time in which a rider could deliver a letter. Modern technologies have significantly increased the speed and distance of information transmission.
In recent decades, there have been more and more studies showing that the form of communication and the storage of technologies determine not only the volume but also the content of knowledge.
The most famous author developing this topic was the cultural critic Marshall McLuhan. He said that the development of communication techniques largely determines the way people think and the whole modern culture as a whole. For example, in ancient times, even before writing became popular, the culture was oral, and it was impossible to imagine history from the point of view of chronology. There was no science of history, and people perceived the world as a series of recurring events. Therefore, knowledge most often took the form of legends. And each listener understood that this event happened to him and his ancestors many times and, for sure, will happen to his children. With the advent of writing, people began to remember history, and now we can say about each event how it affected our lives, what changed it. We know that the world is changing. In ancient times, the heroes of the past often acted as a model for behavior, it was they who set the model of behavior, now more often live and relevant people who have achieved success in this or that field act in this role.
Does a person’s perception of live speech, images, audio, and video content change over time?
The general law of history is a decrease in the sensitivity of perception. In Homer’s time, it was great entertainment to listen to an old, often blind singer who accompanied rather complex poems with simple music on something like a lute. Once people came to a state of ecstasy from the ancient theater, where there were only a few actors and those in masks. The first viewers of cinematic films were afraid of the locomotive and ran away from the hall. And modern people buy a 3D TV with advanced sound technology and yawn during the most exciting stories. For a long time, technologies have been used to increase the realism of the image, bringing the work closer to the viewer. Now, this path has somewhat exhausted itself. This does not mean that our senses are blunted, we just get used to the luxury of clear, bright images and loud sounds, and the media industry, to “reach out” to the viewer, is forced to increase the realism and attractiveness of images.
Our perception remains unchanged, it only adapts to the race of advertising, news, artistic and informational practices, which more and more perfectly convey to us new information about the world around us.
How did the new means of communication affect personal communication and interaction of people?
Modern people communicate less and less in-person and more and more transfer their communication to the sphere of media technologies. Statistics show that people spend a lot of time behind the screens of phones, tablets, and computers and, accordingly, communicate with each other directly less and less time. Technology, of course, affects the communication process, but the degree of this influence is not obvious. The impact of technology on the communication process is often overestimated. Communication is rarely direct, it is always mediated by language, gestures (a person wants to say one thing, but his body says that he thinks something opposite), social conditions, and many other factors. On the other hand, the impact of technical means on the content of messages cannot be underestimated. Technical means often offer ready-made forms of certain messages: we all often use emoticons, templates, pictures from the Internet, which makes our messages less individual and more often reduces the communication process to a simple exchange of formalities. It would be more correct to say that technology offers the temptation to simplify and formalize the communication process. And the more obvious and strong this temptation is, the more people fight it by one means or another. For example, among young people, there is an increasingly common understanding that it is not too polite and decent to be distracted during a conversation on a mobile phone; this is not yet written into various codes and rules of culture, but, being everyone’s choice, indicates a real attitude to the interlocutor.
I would say that in the modern world, the most promising and unusual are those types of communication that a person cannot get from someone, which he must master and constantly improve. For example, personal communication face to face with a loved one, in an eternal and endless attempt to understand what he, this person, means, what he wants, what he strives for, and how, in the end, to make him happy.