The Instigator
Con (against)
7 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
8 Points

Is the use of new communication technologies a positive or negative cultural change?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/14/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,452 times Debate No: 13376
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




Note, this debate does touch on value systems*

I would like to start this debate with a quote from one of my favourite movies:

"He's more machine now than man; twisted and evil" -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star wars Episode 6, Return of the Jedi

This quote has appeared to apply to humanity as a whole more often these days than to a dark lord of the sith. The human race has abandoned the one thing that separates man from machine and puts us above animal: our humanity. And for what? The convenience and blissful ignorance of a new electronic toy and its many applications.

1) The use of texting has in fact limited humanities social interaction and decreases literacy and vocabulary. While a text may supply important information and enable a silent form of talk, it also inhibits ones social skills. A text message is fast and convenient when you want an answer to a question such as "Do you want to meet up for lunch?" or "Did you make it home safely?". No doubts there. The issue With the use of a text message is the lack of interaction it creates. Everyone has experienced once the awkwardness of trying to explain the context of a text message when taken the wrong way. The tone and body-language of a face to face conversation says more than the written word any day. It is said a picture is worth 1000 words and that remains true to this day.

2) That leads me to skype. Many consider this to be the ideal form of communication as not only is it free, it allows "face-time" between people and is most commonly used for long distance relationships. However I see this as a limitation on humanity. You are still talking to an image, not the real person. You are not experiencing their touch, their scent and the rest of their body language unless you actually want them to stand up and yell to be heard. In a romantic atmosphere for example, it is recommended that a man actually TOUCH the fairer sex, on the arm, on the shoulder, etc to gain a more personal bond. (1) It is far better to have your significant other return from a long trip without interaction and to have an embrace and a long talk than to be updated on ones life every other second.

3) And hence I come to the social network. These websites are considered the key to social interaction and many who don't have face book, twitter, etc are cut off from their friends and family and the many goings on in society. When my own mother wanted to see some photos of a trip I went on I told her to check my face book page. She had to create an account as she didn't have one. Now she updates her status three times a day. These status updates are fun, informative and often humorous, however they serve a deeper purpose: advertising.
Taking into account M.T. Anderson's novel feed, one can see the effect of personalized marketing. Life is more convenient but the actual action of thinking for oneself is removed. In the novel, humanity is "one with the feed" (2). Society is slowly becoming this man/machine meld especially with personalized advertisements and that ominous question "What's on your mind?"

I await my opponents remarks.


(2) M.T. Anderson's "Feed" copyright 2002


First I thank Curtis_McGee for starting this topic. Should be interesting.

I will begin by refuting my opponent.

First on his opening paragraph where he cites Obi-Wan, I would like to ask how specifically are we losing our humanity? Although we are becoming more technological, I fail to see how we are becoming less human or anything like that.

1) His first point is about texting. He talks about 1. The lack of tone in a text which can create misinterpretations of whats intnded, and 2. How direct interaction is being compromised.

1. First, misinterpretations in texting may be somewhat common, however the vast majority of the time they are not serious enough to create anger or any kind of negative emotions. Secondly, if in the case they are serious, (for example, if texting "well thanks" is interpreted as being said in a disappointing or crude way, it can be cleared up in an instant. all one person has to do is send another text clarifying the meaning. Its not that complicated.

2. Direct communication is certainly better, however the flaw in his logic is that people who are texting most likely are not in a position to talk the way my opponent wants them to.

2) His next point is about Skype, saying how it is also inferior to actually being with each other.

Once again i do not deny this. However, similar to his texting point, if people are Skyping they obviously cannot communicate any other way. He even admits that its often used with long distance boundaries. Skype may not be the "ideal" communication, but if its the only way 2 people can talk, isnt it at least better than no communication at all?

He says that a long talk after being apart is a good thing, but this is not better than having Skype available. When people, especially loved ones, are away for a long time with minimal or no talking, it creates a sense of loneliness and sometimes sadness, among other things. Because things like Skype prevent the people from feeling truly apart, these emotions are minimized. This outweighs the short term benefit of a long talk.

3) His third point is about social networks. He states people who dont use them are "cut off from their friends and family and the many goings on in society". This could not be less true. Do social networks prohibit you from calling or talking to other people? Obviously not. There are plenty of ways to get a hold of people. Facebook has not monopolized communication. And if you want to see the "many going ons in society", all you have to do is turn on the TV, look on the internet, or read the newspaper. Social networks have absolutely no impact on the ability to get news.

He talks about his mother becoming very active on Facebook, but he never says exactly how this is bad.

I would also like my opponent to explain this concept about how personalized marketing reduces thinking. I'm not quite sure what the link is there.

Now on to my arguments.

My main point is that modern technology is an extension of communication, not a replacement.

Having cell phones, Facebook accounts, or Skype does not prohibit you in any way from actually getting together and talking with someone.

If anything, these things actually improve communication. People who are away from each other can now keep in touch no matter where they are. Families who's dad's/husbands are in Iraq or anywhere else n the world can now have the next closest thing to face-to-face talking (Skype) whereas without it they would feel much more apart.

Essentially, I fail to see how modern tech has discouraged direct talking at all. In addition, to having minimal cons (if any), it also has several obvious benefits, such as being able to get quick answers via text and the ability to talk to anyone from anywhere. Major companies are also beginning to save hundreds of thousands of dollars through new sites such as "Go-To-Meeting", which is essentially Skype for business meetings. This saves all kinds of money and time on air travel and hotel fees which really adds up over time.

Its for these reasons I must encourage a pro vote.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for his interesting remarks.

I will defend and expand my arguments.

In my opening paragraph, I quote Obi-wan as this remark best suits the current human situation. I do not believe humans are not "human" in that we are of the genus Homo-Sapiens-Sapiens, each of us with human DNA. My arguments are that we are losing the basic elements that define humanity as a culture, not that we ourselves are robotic creations. This opening paragraph is merely a summation of my primary argument.

In my first argument my opponent points out that most people who text are most likely in no situation to communicate directly which he admits is the superior method of communication. While true, I make note that the use of text messaging limits "social interaction and decreases literacy and vocabulary. While a text may supply important information and enable a silent form of talk, it also inhibits ones social skills". My opponent agrees that personal interaction is superior to texting and I admit that many who text are in fact far away from each other with limited resources to get in touch. However one of the issues with cell phones that I pointed out failed to be recognized and that is the fact that upon having personal interaction social skills are diminished. Garrison Keillor of the Baltimore Sun writes: "if you don't pick up the fine art of small talk — those little jokey exchanges with the bus driver, the security guy, the cleaning lady, the newsstand guy, the waiter, the bartender — you're missing one of the pleasures of life and narrowing your world severely" (3). This is what I intended to point out with the misinterpretations of text messaging. People are hiding behind their phones and losing personal skills and avoiding face to face the awkward nuances of personal interaction. (4)

In my second argument I speak about skype. My opponent states that it is better for two people to have skype and communicate than not at all; "When people, especially loved ones, are away for a long time with minimal or no talking, it creates a sense of loneliness and sometimes sadness, among other things". I submit to my opponent the common phrase "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". This phrase can apply to all forms of relationships, but especially to loved ones. Many successful couples spend time apart to maintain their individuality and build the love for their partners. (5) As can be expressed by many long lasting friendships and relationships, time apart builds rather than diminishes the desire to be together and the fondness for each other.

Finally, in my third argument, I mention social networking. My opponent states it could not be less true that people in society can be cut off from their friends and family. It seems he failed to understand the example I was giving; my mother was cut off from viewing photos and other things that pertain to me as well as others she cares about. She therefore had to join face book to gain this aspect of social interaction. I do not believe that face book has monopolized communication, what I mean is that a large piece of social interaction today relies on being a part of a social network. If you are outside of that, you miss out on a now near essential part of social interaction. I do not mention the news, however surely one can understand being invited to a face book group, a face book planned event, etc. that is not listed somewhere else, as face book happens to be free. Hence the social goings on in society.

As for the connection to personalized advertising, I posted citation to the novel "Feed" and gave a brief explanation of the novel and its relation today's world. I will elaborate. Personalized ads are those which are designed to target a specific audience or person. When posting a status, likes, interests, activities, etc. data is entered on your personality. Corporations are trying to pinpoint what makes the individual tick and supply them with something they may find useful or they may want. In the novel "feed" humanity has speeded its culture down this road many years into the future and companies are able to supply the individual with what they want before they know they want it. This limits individualistic thinking into one mind, a mind "one with the feed" (2)

In regards to my opponent's argument, he has accurately stated the convenience these communication devices have for daily life. There is no doubt in this. However beyond convenience he has failed to state the benefit to humanities culture, which is what this debate pertains to. My points prove the loss of social skills, individualistic thought, and a decrease in intimacy between people.

For this, I in turn encourage a vote for Con.

(2) M.T. Anderson's "Feed" copyright 2002





I will attack my opponent's rebuilds then go over his argument against mine.

On his first point, he concedes that texting is often the only available method to communicate, but makes the argument that it harms social skills when talking does happen, citing two articles. First I will point out that both of these articles deal almost exclusively with teenagers, so that will be the premises for this.
That being said, teenagers are not as susceptible to social skill loss as my opponent believes, mainly for one reason, school. While my opponent keeps encouraging face to face interaction, he fails to realize that school is *the* place for young men and women to talk. They are all in a compacted area, and face-to-face talking happens all the time, in class, lunch, between classes, etc. Therefore this group is getting a solid combination of social and indirect communication.

He points out that texting decreases literacy and vocab, but gives no warrant as to why this is true. This is just a claim that has not been supported by any reasoning.

On to his second point, he defends, saying that time apart makes the heart stronger. My argument will be impact analysis. The negative emotions experienced while being apart (sadness, depression, etc) with no communication outweighs the benefits of a reunion, because the loneliness must be felt for a very long time before it begins to build the effect my opponent wants. This leads to more and more stress, which again outweighs my opponents impact of a slightly stronger relationship.

On his third point he repeats that social networking makes joining one necessary in order to keep up with friends and family. But he did not address my point that social networks do not stop you in any way from seeing or calling someone. If people dont want to join one, their only real loss is being unable to see constant relationship status changes and not seeing how the random trip to the nail salon went last week. As he states, Facebook allows you to keep up with even the smallest of things going on with friends or family, which is great for people who join them. But for people who arent on one, they can still pick up the phone or pay a visit to someone. Therefore social networks are not restrictive at all and only provide extended communication for those who do join them.

On to this "feed" argument. He states how companies might get to the point where they can offer people things they want before they even know they want it. In addition to being speculation, this argument has no impact. Lets just assume companies will somehow gain the ability to essentially read minds. Lets assume people wont have to think about what they want. My opponent fails to state how this is wrong. Actually, it may even be desirable.

Here's a modern example of this argument my opponent is making. Many sites now offer job matching. You put in your interest and it determines an occupation you may like. My opponent's argument would state that this is wrong. However I'm sure most of us realize that its purely beneficial. The personalized marketing leads to increased convenience. As as previously stated, my opponent has not stated an impact of "limited individualist thinking", assuming it even happens.

He attacks my argument saying that I haven't given benefits to humanities culture. Actually, I showed you throughout the short case and throughout the round how modern tech has extended communication more than anything. People are no longer limited by geographic boundaries such as distance. Whereas before, being apart would prevent any type of communication, with modern tech we can now talk more than ever, which must be considered a positive change to our culture.

Its for these reasons I urge you to vote pro.
Debate Round No. 2


In regards to my opponents remarks:

I am curious if my opponent has been to a high-school recently and spent the whole day there interacting with students. As a recent high-school graduate, I myself can attest to the direct impact on most students social skills and literacy. Text messaging is often riddled with slang, short forms or abbreviations. According to the Pew Research Center, seventy-five percent of students age twelve to seventeen own and use a cell phone daily numbering up to fifty texts on average (3).

If u r talking like this 4 that long, taking away contractions so you dont lose room 2 txt things, its a sure decrease in ur literacy abilities.

On top of this, I cannot say how many times a when talking to a person or group they escaped conversation by retreating to their phone and texting. Even in a group setting, people are likely to pull out their phones if they are bored, awkward, or just don't want to talk to the person. People also lose the ability to reject someone, tell them off, or request something if it places them in an awkward stance. They do it via text or e-mail. This is frequent in teenagers though my opponent would fail to believe it. (3)

My opponent once again states the idea that the crushing loneliness of being away from someone you are close to outweighs the benefits of spending time apart. Once again I am forced to give specific examples of how and why it brings friends and couples closer together. In a healthy relationship everything should be exciting, fresh and enjoyable. Many couples who split apart fall into a routine that doesn't leave the familiar. While the idea of being apart for a time may in fact leave the familiar and therefore comfortable, it gives the opportunity for individual growth and actual connection; "Think about it-two things that are blended together quite literally cannot connect" (6). If my opponent has experienced the thrill of a crush or a relationship, then even he can attest to the thrill, relief and fresh excitement between two people who haven't seen each other in a long time.

My opponent also seems to be confusing my words. I never said that joining a social network makes it "necessary in order to keep up with friends and family". The phone is indeed a useful tool for that, and a drive is nice every once in a while. What I did say was:

"I do not believe that face book has monopolized communication, what I mean is that a large piece of social interaction today relies on being a part of a social network. If you are outside of that, you miss out on a now near essential part of social interaction".

There are now certain aspects of interaction available nearly exclusively on face book; groups, petitions, events, and even photos. These are not "small goings on" they are important parts of peoples lives that many who do not join a social network are missing out on. I stated it is not a necessity but it is almost necessary. I would ask that my opponent not misconstrue my words.

Finally we come back to the idea of personalized marketing and the novel "feed". Advertising has always been pervasive; the image of a Big Mac on a screen cues cravings making you want one suddenly without realizing you were hungry. I do not suggest that a company can read minds, that is absurd, but the idea of analyzing ones activities, interests, and previous spending habits is in practice today. I give the example of your profile on face book. If you write you are single, enjoy hockey and video games, the advertisement wall beside your profile will fill with dating services, sports news and equipment, and the latest video games. This is not mind reading and we have this kind of marketing today. In "feed" a person is one with this kind of advertising and internet, and even this is not far off. (7)

As for why losing individualistic thought is bad, I thought the meaning was obvious. The greatest thinkers, activists and leaders in time realized their potential through their own thought, own action without being told what they may or may not want, what they can and cannot have and how to behave to the social norms of society. These renegades and great thinkers are what made society and human culture great and without their contributions we would be in a far worse place than we are today. Once again, my opponent stresses the benefits of convenience but not at what we are losing as a result of that convenience.

We have become a global community no doubts there and communication has connected the world. However this is of no benefit to humanities culture. We are a divers species. Each and every nation on earth has at least one different outlook or defining factor to et them apart, developed, developing or a primitive tribe. This global village pollutes that diversity that makes us human. The pervasiveness of this communication is not a benefit but a curse.

I again encourage a Con vote.





I have been to a high school recently. So I know my opponent is correct when he states people use slang in texts and withdraw to their phones when they dont want to talk. The impacts of these are whats debatable though. As for the grammar/literacy skills, what my opponent fails to realize is that both students and adults are also required to write properly. Teens are in schools. Teachers obviously will not accept papers and work done in texting language. Therefore they are still required to learn and use proper english, meaning grammar and literacy is unharmed. Adults are also required to type properly in office jobs and the like, so its not a concern outside of school either.

My opponent talks about people retreating to their phones if they dont want to talk. OK, but the key here is that they do this when they dont want to talk. The phone is not directly or indirectly causing the person to not want to converse. If we did not have phones, it would not magically make the person willing to talk. The phone is only a result, not a cause. Therefore in this situation there is no link between the cell phone and the unwillingness to socialize.

He then says that the stronger relationship built between 2 people after being apart warrants the pain felt during that time. This impact will likely just come down to the opinion of whoever's reading this. However, I will win this point regardless. I would like to remind us that this was originally about Skype. The use of Skype is purely optional. Therefore, because people are not forced to use Skype to communicate, if people wish to take some time away from each other (which many couples do), they can gain the benefits it being apart and choose to not use remote communications like Skype. But if people do that, this does not mean skype is part of a negative cultural change. Because after all, its use is optional. So even if you accept that a stronger relationship outweighs the pain of being apart, this does not make Skype any less desirabele since people are not being forced to use it. And I think thats the main misconception my opponent is making. People dont have to use it.

He repeats that not being in a social network can cause you do lose out on a big part of social interaction. What I would like to ask is that, if we did not have Facebook and the like, would this social interaction even exist in the first place?

Since it obviously wouldnt, we cant say Facebook is causing anybody to lose out.

He repeats how personalized marketing works. I did not deny that it happens, I even provided an example of it for him, so I dont see the point of this paragraph.

He states the impact of it is again there really wasnt one. He talks about great thinkers not having people tell them what they want. This still doesnt give us an impact. My opponent has never specifically said what the negative concequences of this is, assuming there even are any. If people suggest things we may like, what is wrong with this? He also didnt address my example of job matching, which shows you how personalized marketing isnt wrong by any means.

To close I'd like to repeat what I said in my first round. Modern technology has extended communication, not replaced it. I have shown you how we are not losing any social skills throughout this round, and how we are only benefiting from new techlonogy. Its for this reason I urge you to vote pro.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by BlackVoid 6 years ago
I think I will try and read that. I'm a fan of Sci-fi stuff that has societal or moral implications.
Posted by Curtis_Mcgee 6 years ago
*try my hand
Posted by Curtis_Mcgee 6 years ago
I started this debate because a few friends of mine were talking about it, I was essentially on the pro side. Believe me, I had no idea what feed was until I read it a week ago.
I recommend it. Its what made me decide to try my and at con this debate.
Posted by BlackVoid 6 years ago
Nah you didnt sound like that.

Good round though. I really had to think to come up with something against the Feed argument. I couldnt figure out a reason why it wouldnt happen, so i just argued impacts.
Posted by Curtis_Mcgee 6 years ago
wow. This is getting more heated than i thought
Trying to be polite makes me sound like a dick...
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