The way we communicate have changed over the years, from face-to-face interactions, phone calls, emails, and nowadays video conferencing.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each type i.e. online/offline.
It is no surprise that online communication is the most common way to interact these days, given its accessibility, cost, and convenience.
But what else is good about it?
The Upsides of Online Interactions
1. You Can Choose to Send Emails
Emails are the main form of formal and informal communication, although apps replaced the latter for the most part.
Yes, email is still prevalent even with the many alternatives that have tried – and failed – to replace it.
We think this is because emails convey a sense of formality that makes one appear more professional compared to something like WhatsApp. It is also easier to keep records of your conversations since emails tend to contain a lot of information in one place while being easily searchable.
Email, as such, is unlikely to lose its relevance anytime soon.
2. The Efficiency of Video Calls
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an exponential increase in using video calls as an alternative to face-to-face meetings.
Online classes, virtually seeing your loved ones, and business meetings have benefited greatly from this technology while keeping physical distancing in place. It might have even saved more than a few relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aren’t you thankful for how far technology has advanced?
3. It Is Relatively Cheap and Quick
Data plans have become much cheaper over time, and this trend will undoubtedly continue due to intense competition. This is good for us as consumers since it opens up a wide range of options to choose from.
Telecom companies have also been upgrading their infrastructure as the world transitions from 4G to 5G. You can therefore expect an increase in the number of interconnected devices over the coming years as they gradually become more common at people’s homes.
We are cautiously optimistic that 5G technology will be a game-changer even though various privacy concerns remains unresolved.
4. You Can Take It Anywhere
The portability of your electronic gadgets is another upside of interacting online, whether via emails, voice mails, or video calls.
The smart gadget you carry is like a Swiss army knife in that it acts as a multi-purpose tool in both your personal and professional lives. It also acts like a constant ‘companion’ that makes you feel more connected (although there are downsides to this).
It’s like carrying the world in the palm of your hands.
The Downsides of Online Interactions
Yes, you read that right. There are disadvantages to good things too (which should not come as no surprise)!
1. You Are More Vulnerable Online
Cybercriminals are always one step ahead of us, and the Internet has made it easier for people to fall victims to cyberattacks, virtual bullying, scams, and such.
We advise that you don’t take this lightly because you could fall victim to online predators whose sole purpose is to exploit the innocent. Here is an article on how you can stay safe while online.
2. Not Everything You See Online Is Real
It is more difficult to discern what is real from what is fake when you are online.
One reason is the inability to read a person’s facial expression and body language, even during video calls. It is also difficult to reliably judge whether the person you see online is or is not someone with malicious intent.
The rampant fake news that someone can easily create on the Internet only makes things worse.
3. Lack of Physical Contact
There is inherently something special about the sense of proximity face-to-face interactions offer that virtual ones don’t.
Things like a handshake, a pat on the back, and a kiss on the cheeks are not possible online, and we don’t know if they will ever be.
A lot of people would probably be less stressed out today if only we could replace all offline interactions with online ones.
4. Online Addiction
It is so much easier to be glued to your screen all day than it is to be glued to your boss or friend.
Many types of addiction, from online gaming to frequent checking of social media, have popped up since the Internet became widespread. This has led to some people suffering from withdrawal symptoms when they are distanced from their electronic gadgets.
Please seek help if you happen to find yourself suffering from online addiction because this is a disease that is very real yet rarely gets mentioned.
5. Information Overload
The vast amount of information available on the Internet is a dual-edged sword.
On one hand, you have access to a vast repository of knowledge in just a few taps. The flip side is finding yourself bombarded with too much information, which can lead to mental overload.
Thankfully, search engines have stepped up their game in this aspect, and we can only hope that they will continue to make relevant information easier to find.
There is also the fact that not all information can be found online, so it is still worthwhile to make that trip down to your local bookstore and/or library.
It’s not as flashy as any of the online/technology stuff, nor do we know if anything will ever be able to completely replace this very basic form of communication.
Yes, we can now send rockets into outer space, but who is working on how to replace that innate feel of the human touch?
The Upside of Offline Interactions
1. Your Senses Are More Involved
Let’s be honest: we humans are born with our senses so that we can interact effectively with our environment.
Virtual interactions are at best limited to using two out of your five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Eye movements, facial expressions, and body language are necessary for imparting signals in expressing our disappointment, delight, disgust, and such. Offline communication, therefore, allows more information to be conveyed, as it also involves using the other senses that humans intuitively use to make judgments.
2. It Is Better for Relationship Building
It is easier to build a relationship offline than it is online (unless you are looking for something superficial).
Try getting intimate with someone online, and then try it offline, and you will know what we mean. They just cannot be compared.
This isn’t just limited to intimate relationships. Even friendships are easier to build when you are physically close to one another.
3. There Is a Sense of Proximity
There are things that are only possible physically that are impossible virtually.
These include sharing a meal, shaking hands, or going on a walk together that many take for granted. They will feel different even if you somehow manage to replicate them in a virtual setting and will likely remain so for a long time, if not forever.
The Downsides of Offline Interactions
The downsides of offline interactions are simply the upsides of online interactions in reverse.
This old-school way of communicating may not sit well with those who are nervous, introverts, or poor communicators. It is also generally harder to obtain instant gratification from offline interactions compared to online ones.
Bonus: here’s a TED talk by an introvert that we recommend you spend some time watching.
The reality is that neither form of interaction is inherently superior to the other.
Online interactions are without a doubt an advantage in itself, although it is not the be-all and end-all in communications.
You should therefore use whichever one is best depending on your circumstances and personal preference(s).