There are so many ways to talk about communication (whoa) that if I didn't focus on one topic of subset of topics, I would have no chance of finishing this before midnight. So, in an effort to do just that, I'm going to write about the first thing that pops into my head. Welcome to my thought process:
Imagine a world where strawberries are the only regular source of fruit (where is this going?). Everybody eats them, some more than others. Not everybody likes them either but indulge in them nonetheless because it would be strange not to. Remember, everybody eats them. Now imagine in this hypothetical world that, suddenly, blueberries are introduced as an equally abundant source of fruit. Many of the people who don't like strawberries move towards the blueberries and are able to connect with one another over this sense of freedom. Would you be able to take a look at this world and say that blueberries are "ruining" how people eat strawberries? Would you be able to say that blueberries are destroying society?
It's a stupid analogy, and that's because it's a stupid argument (in my opinion). You wouldn't have much trouble these days finding someone who believes in one way or another that the advent of modern-day technology has, to some degree, decreased the proficiency of our species to communicate well. It's easy to see why: we're in a world where talking to people online or via text message is more comfortable than speaking to someone face-to-face. If you ask among your friends (I'm talking us 18-30 peeps here), I'd be willing to bet you'd find a significant percentage of people who express the sentiment that they'd rather text than call. Of course, there are pretty logical reasons as to why you would text rather than call someone—you have a simple yes/no question, you know they're somewhere they can't talk on the phone, etc., but how many of those people would still text in more dire situations? Maybe a handful, maybe all of them? And if that's the case, then maybe advances in communication technology are truly ruining our ability to speak to one another.
But it's still a weak argument. In fact, you'd probably find just as many people who share the viewpoint that communication hasn't weakened via technology, but has actually improved. Until the introduction of email, sending a message to someone on the other side of the world was no easy feat, even with phones. Now, we can pretty much instantaneously reach our international friends on our laptops and phones, even see them via video call. I mean, rovers on Mars can relay information all the way back to Earth. You can't look at just this small aspect of how communication has changed and logically come to the conclusion that technology has ruined the way we communicate.
My point is this: when the world changes, sometimes we have to change with it instead of always looking at how things have been or how they "should" be. I'll be the first to admit that I, too, once believed technology to be the hypothetical bomb that would took down human interaction. Yet, if I didn't use new tools of communication, no one would read these posts except me and whatever publication decided to print it (which, full disclosure, would be a horrible decision on their part).
Is the state of human interaction and face-to-face communication diminishing? I don't think so, but it certainly seems that way. To refer back to the strawberry/blueberry analogy (I'm so sorry), what happened when the blueberries were introduced wasn't that there was a sudden decline in strawberry quality, but rather that there was a decline in the quantity of strawberry-eaters. At the same time, there was an increase in the number of blueberry-eaters. The net population remained the same. I guess the strawberry-eaters in this situation saw that things were changing, that people were moving away from strawberries, and saw it as a bad thing when in actuality it was just...different. We're so used to speaking with each other in person (after all, it's been literally millenia) that we see this new form of communication as unwanted, unnatural even. But maybe it's time to embrace it. Maybe it's time we move towards saying, hey, I like strawberries and blueberries!
Embrace the blueberry.
...And once again, I have no clue how that became my conclusion. The profundity is lost on this post.