RYAN JOHNSON/THE ARBITER

Communication is the essential human experience. It binds us together; it binds our hearts, minds and souls.

But what if there is such a thing as too much communication, too much connectivity? Why do we spend endless and excessive hours on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter?

Are we actually seeking sincere forms of communication, or are we all merely narcissists waiting and anticipating that next “wall post” or “tweet” with the withdrawal and desire of a heroin addict?

Ever since the age of the Internet we have been pursuing greater and greater means of communication over the Web. Blogs, Facebook, eHarmony, etcetera — they all aim to bring greater means of communication to us humans.

Relationships of all types are formed and solidified over the Internets manifold social networking websites. Yet are these relationships, if you can label some that, truly meaningful and worthwhile pursuits? Web sites may indeed connect more and more people together in terms of sheer numbers, but do they improve actual face-to-face communication skills within the real world?

What the internet can never replace is the physical expression: the real, tangible smile, not a colon followed by a parenthesis. The inflection in their voice. The scent. The sadness or joy that is only revealed within one’s eyes. A wry grin that reveals deceit. The touch of a loved one or embrace of a friend.

All of this and more is absent when using online means of communication. And all of these foster strong relationships of all types.

One cannot build strong, healthy relationships without at least some skill in non-virtual reality communication. We must never neglect real-world means of interaction.

For nothing is as healthy or beneficial as real-life interaction.

Psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman was quoted on an online article from the newspaper Daily Mail, dailymail.co.uk, that “Research suggested that the number of hours people spent speaking to others face-to-face had fallen dramatically since 1987 as the use of electronic media increased.”

“Electronic media was also undermining the ability of children and young people to learn vital social skills and read body language,” said Dr. Sigman. (www.dailymail.co.uk)

Such cautionary statements should not imply we all become Luddites and violently smash our computer screens with sledgehammers.

It should imply though that we more closely monitor our online activities and usage—never forgetting that the tangible, real-world will always be the more satisfying of the two experiences.