Digital Communication Technology: Bringing us closer together or pulling us apart?

How is communication technology impacting the concept of communities? The 2015 Heartland Monitor Poll found that 53 percent of American adults believe that communication technology is improving people’s “quality of life by making it easier to keep in touch.” In comparison:

• 39 percent of people surveyed believed that this same technology is diminishing people’s quality of life by changing the concept of community
• 54 percent of people believe that the future of communications technology “will improve my quality of life in the future”
• 41 percent of people consider that “technological advances are moving too fast and are disrupting too many aspects of our economy and social life.”

The survey seems to indicate that as innovations in communication technology allow us to become more global, the impact is that we are at risk of losing local community connections.

Jerry Buchko tweeted on October 12, 2015, that “in many cases our use of tech is actually revealing more visible where community was assumed but not actual”. The traditional definition of communities is “a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.” This definition of a community misses the point that if people are not going to be socializing, participating or sharing in a community, then with or without technology there is no community. As Jerry Buchko further tweeted, “We talk about tech and other stuff we create in the abstract as if it acts on its own. We/people are always the prime movers”. The impact of communication technology on communities is that it neither detracts from communities nor adds to communities without the engagement of people.