You are on page 1of 9

Shannon Kaminski

The History Of Communication

Communication has always been a vital part of history, starting in the prehistoric times, cave

images and papyrus was used to give messages and portray different meanings. Fast forward a

couple thousand years, and mankind evolved to the telephone, specifically in the 1850s. This is

when the first telephone was born, a large, bulky device that had two parts, and required two

hands-- one piece which you would hold to your

ear, and the other to your mouth. Of course, you

couldnt go very far, as it was attached to the wall

(frightening!), and it was pretty rare for a family to

have one, let alone any more than that (can you

imagine?).

Now fast forward again about a hundred years, and new variations were formed of the telephone,

where ear and mouth pieces were combined into one unified piece, and the numbers could be

dialed using the round dial that one must spin with his or her fingers to select each number-- a

very time consuming process!!

In another 20 years, around 1973, after

more variations of the house phone and

the advancement of a wireless house

phone, the first mobile phone was born--

a big, blocky device with a huge


antennae and a chin piece, of course, and certainly no chance of fitting it in your pocket.

By the 1990s, this design was modified significantly, taking the blockiness of the first cell phone

and narrowing it down to more compact device; and by the early 2000s, the classic flip phone

was born (do you remember your first flip phone?). 2007 marks Apples release of its iPhone 1,

arguably changing communication as we knew it, forever.

The Paradigm Shift of Communication

In the 1940s, my grandparents met in a bar and danced the night away together. My grandfather

was deployed shortly after, and they kept in touch, writing love letters to each other for over a

year, before they were engaged and got married. A true love story.

When my father was younger, he said the only way to contact his friends was to either

call their house telephone from his own house, or possibly the payphone down the street.

Otherwise he would just knock on his friends doors or hollar for them outside their house.

My parents met in the late 90s, on a plane to London, and hit it off when my dad, who

lived in London at the time, showed my mom around the city. Essentially, he showed her enough

to make them keep in touch with each other over telephone for over a year, until they were

engaged and my mom moved across the pond so they could live together as newlyweds.

When smartphones were developed in 2007, a huge shift occurred, namely for The

Millennial generation.

Think about how you communicate with your significant other on a daily basis. How did

your relationship begin? Did you talk for awhile, over text, or did you Snapchat, possibly?
Were your first interactions primarily virtual, or did he call you, ask you on a date, and then

leave it at that until he picked you up that Friday night to take you to a movie?

How about how you communicate with your friends? Would you say you talk on the

phone more often, or send texts or snaps more often? Maybe you and all of your friends just chat

in one big group message?

This is a paradigm shift in communication. It went from face-to-face or phone calls to

primarily instant messaging. And I beg the question: how does this affect our generation?

Interpersonal Communication

There are four main approaches to interpersonal communication, and the one which I find

most noteworthy for our discussion is the Developmental Approach. This approach essentially

states that an interpersonal relationship goes through stages in which the interpersonal

relationship starts as a non-interpersonal one, where the people involved are acquaintances,

without any familiarity or knowledge of the other person and their psychological tendencies.

Through time, this relationship can become intimate to a level where both parties gain true

familiarity of one another and are able to read one anothers communicative tendencies, both

verbal and nonverbal.

Mark Knapp and Anita Vangelisti, in 2000, laid out ten stages, from greeting to goodbye, as I

have copied below. I only included the first five stages, as they show the steps of initiation and

bonding between two people.

1. Initiating: The stage that involves all of the processes that occur when people

first come together.


2. Experimenting: The "small talk" stage, which further uncovers common topics.

3. Intensifying: Partners come to perceive themselves as a unit.

4. Integrating: Relaters are treated as a unit by outsiders.

5. Bonding: The relationship is formalized by some kind of institutionalization.

6. Differentiating: Disengaging or uncoupling emphasizes individual differences.

As you can see above, it starts with initiation, when two people first meet. Then, it

moves on to experimenting, where small talk and common interests take place, and then to

intensifying the relationship all the way to possible termination of the relationship (which I

didnt include), if things dont really work out between the two.

So what are the effects of undergoing these stages in a form of communication that is

not face-to-face-- as our generation so often does-- especially the first few initiation stages?

Of course the stages of forming a relationship, as exemplified above, compared to a

friendship is a little bit different, but the ideals are the same.

Does it hinder or even eliminate the key interactions that occur which bring the

relationship to an intimate level? This is a possibility, but what if instant messaging or other

new forms of communication have a reverse effect, in which these key interactions are

actually sped up, and bring the relationship to an intimate level prematurely, with uncertainty

and a false sense of security?

A recent study reveals that texting in adolescent relationships results in different levels

of attachment. Texting has been shown to foster tighter bonds and intimacy in pre-existing
relationships, however those who prefer voice calls over texting tend to have higher levels of

intimacy, love, and commitment. This makes for more secure attachments within

relationships, while couples that utilize texting results in higher levels of relational

uncertainty.

This study supports the fact that while the instant messaging that smartphones allow

may help couples to foster bonds in a dyadic relationship, it may also result in insecure

attachments within young relationships that will not help in increasing levels of certainty

between the pair.

Through personal experience, I think constant texting in a relationship takes away

from time and conversations spent in person, and in turn makes for a less satisfying

relationship. After all, if you are talking all day, everyday over text, what are you possibly

going to talk about in person?

Contrastingly, texting, with good timing, allows for social grooming, in other

words, a way for people to show ones interest or care in another. Texting doesnt have a high

informational value in its content, however it has a high social grooming value. When

someone texts you, it means they are thinking of you-- thats the basis of social grooming,

and how it can help foster or intimate a relationship/friendship.

Millennial Communication

It is not just relationships that texting affects, but also the business place. Email is a

more formal vehicle for communication within a business, however it has disadvantages due
to confusion and misunderstanding in the tone/meaning of the message. Normally clear

communicators might omit helpful sentence structure or mistakenly assume that their tone

carries over in an e-mail, causing confusion or miscommunications within companies. This

form of nonverbal communication is similar to the unclarity that one often finds while texting.

It is also apparent, however, that Millennials in the working place are much more

likely to be easily contacted through text/instant messaging, which further proves that our

generation is more tech-oriented and has adapted to the new styles of communication more so

than any other generation that precedes.

Interestingly, a study has even shown that business meetings over computerized

conferences (like Skype or Facetime) have different tones and outcomes than face-to-face

meetings. The study shows that Group decisions were equally good in the two modes, but

the groups were less likely to reach agreement in the computerized conferencing mode. There

were proportionately more of the types of task-oriented communication associated with

decision quality in the computerized conferences.

I think this says a lot about how communication works, and even more about the

importance of face-to-face interaction. When it gets down to making decisions and coming to

agreements, being in person is so important; even being on a Facetime call just isnt the same.

Nonverbal Communication

Why is there a difference between this communication? Well, we already know that

the tone and the message in instant messaging/email gets lost in translation, but another key to
communication is the nonverbal part of it-- that is, an exchange of information through

nonlinguistic signs, such as gestures, facial expressions, and general dispositions. In other

words, new forms of communication lack body language. There is simply nothing else like

being in real time, in person.

Nonverbal communication can be attributed to the darkness or lightness in a room,

which may delineate either hushed and calm conversations or more lively and excited

activity. It can also be attributed to different cues in conversation, like nonverbal cues that

accentuate a persons understanding (subtle nods, shaking of the head, smiling, etc.), or the

talkers end of speech (lowering or raising tone/loudness of voice). Additionally, nonverbal

communication functions to show a persons general feelings. For example, a frown shows

unhappiness and distress can be shown through a quiver in ones voice. Waving means

goodbye and a pat on the back means well done. Many signs and gestures dont need

language to have meaning.

Nonverbal communication is a huge part of communication as a whole, and with the

paradigm shift of communication, it often gets lost in translation too. People can easily hide

distress or unhappiness over text messages, or find ways to hide their true feelings. I think this

shift in communication makes it easy for people to be in-genuine, making for less honest

communication, and a lack of full understanding on the receivers part due to complete lack

of nonverbal signals and messages.

The Future
The future holds tons of possibilities for where technology will take communication

next, but with nanotechnology and others underway, we can expect to see mobile devices

printed onto or into our own skin, instant voice messaging, and other forms of wireless

connectivity. Future technologies may encourage us to interact in more realistic face-to-face

manners, or they may hinder those forms of interaction more; but the social normalities are

ever-changing, and with more advancements, communications paradigm shift is only

beginning.

Conclusion

This paradigm shift has a massive effect on our lives, as Millennials. This effect can

either be negative or positive however, and we must understand the ways in which our forms

of communication can help or harm us. Instant messaging, texting, email, and all other forms

of communication through technology can be extremely advantageous for communicating

efficiently and at long distances. But these forms of communication can also be harmful to the

development in our face-to-face communicating skills as well as making our messages clear

and genuine. It is important that we are wary of this risk to our communication skills so that

we can take advantage of technology, without letting it take over our lives. We must let

communication help guide or enhance our relationships, not form our relationships.

Mobile phones have completely changed cultural behaviors, as well as social norms in

communication in todays world. They have changed the meaning of mobility itself, as people

can communicate intimately and privately whether they are in the same, crowded room, or

they are significantly geologically dispersed. Mobile phones allow for people to stay
connected even if a large distance is between them, or if there are other barriers blocking the

way. They give people a casual way to send memos or information that is less intrusive than

face-to-face or even phone calls. Just remember, sometimes seeing someone in person is the

most effective way to get your message across, no matter what it may be.