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Talking Without The Text

November 19, 2008, 10:19 PM by Erica Johnson

Talking Without The Text
Does the acronym L-O-L sound familiar? How about the websites called Facebook, My Space, or Twitter? It's part of what Generation "Y" uses to communicate, but do they depend on it so much they are missing out on really learning to communicate? We posed a challenge to three college students asking them to give up their cell phones, and internet except for school work for one day, and for these students, talking with out the text was tougher than they expected. 

"I have a really pointless class and I would not have survived without Facebook or MSN. Seriously...there's no way," says Dakota State University Student Tiffany Hora.
Survival of the "Y" Generation doesn't depend on just food or water, now it also includes those electronic devices that can go anywhere. From laptops, to cell phones, to PDA's the tech hype has more than infiltrated college campuses around the nation and swept up any teenager or young adult in it's path. 

Dr. Jack Walters is a professor at DSU and studies communication.  He says, "It's a core part of how they operate. Even phones now, they are taking the backseat to texting or IM because we are all wireless." 

Dr. Walters has worked with many of the modern technologies of communication. 

"The joke that goes around campus is that roommates will sit in their rooms and text each other so it's become so core to what they do that it's become sort of the main highway of their communication. Personally I don't understand it. Phones seem to work great for me, but there's something about the privacy, shortness, quickness of it that students are attracted to."

Especially on this campus, where laptop computers are an essential part of daily life simply because every student has a computer. That makes emailing a lot more convenient than face-to-face contact. 

So how easy would it be for these three college students to cut off all lines of communication for one day? 

"To go for a day wasn't horrible but I definitely had to remind people not to text me. I knew if I'd got one I'd reply," says DSU Student Erica Christoph.

Hora says, "You kind of feel lonely. You don't have anyone to talk to, you just feel disconnected and I don't like it." 

For Hora, it forced her to come up with other ways to make plans with friends. 

"I was suppose to meet a couple of people for dinner last night and after I got the call I realized I had no way to find out where we're eating or meeting so I actually had to go drive to their place physically and ask them what time we were meeting," says Hora.  "It was kind of chaotic for a while. I felt lost and confused."
And while face to face communication is more rare for these two students, Brian Hanson said he didn't even notice the change. He doesn't like texting, rarely checks his Facebook, and visits his professors in their offices. Hanson says he just grew up in a house where technology wasn't paramount. 

"My mom calls me and asks me how to use the VCR and I think that's funny and I just grew up, there's a different way of thinking, a lot more personal when you talk face to face," says Hanson. 

But at this campus there's no way to avoid technology, a technology many from older generations have trouble fully understanding.

"It took us 4 weeks to tell my Grandpa that that weird beeping on his phone meant someone sent him a text message," says Christoph.

But with text, email, and instant messaging in the palm of their hands, silencing the cyber waves for these generation Y-ers won't likely be possible.

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