How Our Social Distanced World Reminds Us Of The Importance Of Real World Interactions

The discussion surrounding virtual learning is a complicated one. While flawed, no one individual is quite responsible for these flaws that seem to plague (no pun intended) all those involved. We could stand around all day and point fingers at inadequate and overcomplicated software, lack of student participation or motivation, or technological ineptitude on the end of the teachers, but these conversations rarely end in anything other than wounded pride and burned bridges. We are all in a new era of technological-based communications and interactions whether we like it or not, yet these virtual times have made one concept all too clear: technology will never replicate the subtlety and complexity involved in true human social interaction. While never may be a strong word, I believe that even while technology progresses and develops at the rapid paces we have all witnessed over the past few decades, there are aspects of human interaction that cannot be replicated due to how detailed these aspects are. This idea was only brought to mind because of my experience through virtual learning. Before virtual learning, I would be hard-pressed to identify the aspects of human interaction beyond speech that impacted the message one intended to communicate, but after more experience on zoom meetings than I ever wished to have, I now understand the importance of body language, tone, atmosphere, eye contact, and even the distance between you and the person talking, and how they all impact the meaning of what is truly behind stated from one person to another. Details such as specific and eyebrow movement or the reaction of one’s face to what has been said gives numerous social cues to the listener, yet we take in this information, digesting it to change our view of the interaction without ever being formally taught what these social cues imply. While in kindergarten we were taught to be kind to one another while the fundamental aspects of a healthy social interaction were explained to us, the nuances that are so valuable to each and every conversation were taught through social experience, not a class. Due to this, they are not commonly discussed, but also not standardized. These social cues differ greatly across cultures and groups, and can often lead to confusion and miscommunication that is never pointed out. While a basic psych class may discuss these cues, this virtual learning experience has exposed me to the importance of these social cues, and I hope that this virtual learning has impacted many others the same way, stressing the importance of the social intricacies we are all various levels of fluent in. Once the world starts spinning again I believe we might find a shift in society across the world, a shift we can’t quite identify. We might find ourselves in a society more conscious than ever of the social cues and ideas we send not with our mouths, but with our tones, our bodies, and our eyes. 

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