Ever wonder why people seem different online compared to in person? Could social media be impacting the way we communicate with others? It is almost like we have created a second personality. It took me sitting in on a Digital Disruption Panel to really think about about why.
It’s an exciting time on campus as we just welcomed the new President of our college,
Dr. Rooney, and in turn a new chapter. As a part of inauguration week, Fisher offered several
opportunities for students to go to events on campus—and I was lucky enough to sit in on the
“The New Media Landscape: Digital Disruption” panel on Thursday the 8th that was held to
honor Ray Martino, a Fisher alum and partner at Martino Flynn with the Lifetime Achievement
Award for his outstanding contributions to media and communications.
The topic of Digital Disruption was interesting since we hear a lot about it. Older
generations nagging us that we’re too connected with technology, and that we can’t possibly
function without it. The unique aspect of this panel was that it was given to a variety of ‘digital
users’. The audience was a mixture of Fisher faculty, business professionals, Fisher students, and
a lot of Fisher Alums, and trying to explain the advantages and disadvantages of digital media to
groups that use technology very differently is a troubling task; however, the panel was stacked
with professionals that were up to the challenge.
Tom Proietti was the moderator for the panel, and he asked a simple question that led to
an insightful conversation, “what are some of the skills you believe are important for people in
the audience to be able to utilize?” Amanda DeVito jumped in with an answer that connected to
everyone in the audience in their own way. She spoke about the importance of maintaining
interpersonal communication in the digital era, and how the ability to communicate in person and
online seems like an easy thing to do; however, making online communication really match with
who you really are in person can be difficult.
Think about it, we have all met that person who seemed so friendly over email, but once
you were around them in person they didn’t quite measure up. At the same time, we know people
who seem short and abrupt online, but they’re actually bubbly and outgoing in person. I began
thinking, so how do you connect these personalities considering emails, texts, and social media
can dramatically change the tone of a lot of conversations and alter people’s perceptions of who
we really are.
What’s the number one reason we act differently across these different platforms? I’m
not sure, and I don’t know if anyone knows for sure; however, my thought keeps coming back to
confidence. Is our generation more confident communicating online than in person? It makes
sense. Online, we have the chance to construct exactly what we want to say and how we say it,
so of course we would feel better about our statements. In addition, we do not see other people’s
facial reactions to what we say, so if they disapprove of our response, we just have to read the
words—a notion a lot more appealing than being shot down in person, hearing their voice, and
reading their facial reactions.
If all of this is true, what if we could gain that interpersonal confidence that we have
online? Think about how that would strengthen our personal and professional lives. We already
know that confidence is important to conversation, but if that’s part of what’s keeping our
interpersonal conversations weaker than our online conversations, we have yet another reason to
try building it up. In the professional world, we won’t always be able to hide behind our emails
or quick texts, so these skills are extremely important for us to strengthen for success. We should
not let the digital era ‘disturb’ our success.