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Drawbacks of Using Technology to Communicate



The "cookie" emoji is different across various platforms. 

Image courtesy Emojipedia via Mental Floss.

          Technology does present challenges to the communication process. Access to technology can limit those who can be involved in the process. The use of technology often comes at a monetary cost.  With the initial investment and regular maintenance of devices and software, technology can be expensive. This expense might limit who can be involved in the communication process and prohibit those with less financial resources from having their voices heard. 

          Competing technological systems can divide us into categories of user types. Some people are Skype, others are Zoom; some people are Facebook, others are Twitter; some people are Word, others are Google Docs. Technology can be great, but when we divide ourselves into a specific category without allowing others access to our approach, we are effectively ending the communication process. If you want to communicate or collaborate with someone using a different platform, you may have to step out of your comfort zone and use their technology. We must be open to working with each other and encouraging technology makers to provide ways that strengthen everyone working together. 

          Similarly, incompatibility between devices can be a hurdle. Emojis for example can be drastically different between device types. A simple smile on your phone may come through completely different on the receiver’s phone, or even come across as text.

           Lack of internet connection can also be a detriment to technology mediated communication. While many feel we are always connected, there are times when people are not. This “network connectivity problem” prevents us from utilizing some forms of technology to connect with one another. 

           Video conferencing systems often limit the number of participants that can be involved or add participants with additional payment. Webinar hosting software can be expensive for the host. Webinar hosts can pass the cost to the audience members if they so choose. Pre-recorded presentations can be edited and may not be an accurate representation of the speaker as they could have recorded multiple takes until they get it right. These pre-recorded sessions hinder the interactive ability of participants.

          Instant messaging can be a digital office “watercooler.” For example, a manager calling one employee into their office could cause other employees to chat and gossip while appearing to work. 

           It is important to remember that any communication you make through technology is potentially being monitored—even in secure environments. At work, your employer may be tracking time spent on instant messaging services, social media, and other connected platforms. They may also be monitoring the content shared on these platforms. At school, administrators might track what websites you visit, who you are talking to, and how you interact online. At home, parents have controls that can be put onto devices to monitor content. Websites, applications, and internet service providers all have the ability to track users. Additionally, the government has the ability to obtain warrants to monitor your interactions. Err on the side of caution and wisdom. Always proceed as if a group of people are standing behind you looking over your shoulder. 

           The most important downside of technology mediated communication is human perception. Written online communication does not always translate the encoder’s pitch, tone, and voice. Things such as sarcasm don’t always come through like they would in a face-to-face communication setting. It may be difficult to discern truth from fiction, fact from reality, and validity from an over extension of truth. You must remain conscious that the keyboard may not communicate your humor and intent. 

Review Questions

1) What are some potential drawbacks to video conferencing systems?

2) Were you aware that emojis can appear different on different devices? How does this impact your ability to use them?


3) Were you aware that your use of technology is potentially being monitored? What types of monitor do you think happens at your school? At your work? At your home? 

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