Communication Breakdown, Part 1

Back in 2005, I wrote a 3-part series for Alien's Planet.  I will be reintroducing this series over the next three weeks.  Consider this an introduction to my new science and technology feature for Mondays.  I enjoyed writing these three pieces.  The first part deals with technology and conversation and how we have grown further apart while trying to come together.

A Little Less Conversation

Welcome to the first in a series of essays that will discuss the effects of technology on communication. The first part talks about the Internet's influence on conversation. The purpose of this series is not to discourage people from using the Internet, but to enhance and improve the usage of this remarkable tool to enlighten others while learning at the same time.

Technology is supposed to break down barriers of separation, but more and more it seems to have reinforced them. Thanks to the Internet more people are given a voice in society with weblogs, free web space and cheap domain names. Unfortunately, people are using their voice a lot more than their ears and their minds. The Internet is full of weblogs that are full of opinions that the respective authors will stand by while refusing to even consider the opinions of others. This turns into verbal assault between divergent points of view and the only thing accomplished is ill will between the parties. Because of this type of narrow mindedness, conversation is becoming endangered while the divide is becoming more prevalent. Many bloggers have this "with me or against me" mentality and it takes place on both sides of any issue. These people are no longer trying to explain their positions, but instead slinging insults at those who disagree and refuse to open their minds enough to accept any part of their counterparts.

There is a simple solution to this problem, but for many it may seem a little hard to do. Listen. It's that simple to open the mind to other possibilities and still come to the same conclusion. One does not need to change his/her entire opinion, but merely the path to which he/she arrives at that opinion. Many try to take one side of an issue and stand by it wholeheartedly, even when they might realize that his/her ideas may have fallen apart at the seams. Nobody will ever totally agree with each other completely, but people will agree with certain points and try to insert other points. Thus begins a conversation. Conversation is not about 100% agreement, but coming to an understanding. A conversation does not consist of all parties agreeing with one another nor does it mean people simply hurl insults back and forth. This essay, for example, will not satisfy everybody, but many will find points within the text that they can agree with. Nobody will totally commit themselves to this opinion and I will not agree with the detractors, but I will find points in their arguments that will make me reconsider parts of my opinion.

The technology we have today allows for dialogue and could open the door to a greater understanding. Unfortunately, many people prefer to do all the talking while not listening to others. They get other people to follow them and agree with everything they say like they're building an army to keep those that disagree at bay. They continue an assault, but not on their detractors, but on the art of conversation. Without conversation, problems will never get resolved and animosity will build between those of differing opinions.

Coming up next: Technology and writing

This concludes the first part.  I will post the next part next week alongside Gardening with AlienCG.  Let me find out from all of you, though, what issues of tech an science should I talk about?