The changes in technology over the years has made life for people who stammer a whole lot easier, but at what cost?
How many of us of an older generation pretty much never used the ‘house phone’?
With the fact now that pretty much every person over the age of 10 has a mobile phone, you can be pretty sure the person you wish to speak to will be the person to answer the phone. Back in the day if you wanted to arrange to go out, you had to call someone’s home phone and anyone could answer that and then you had to ask for the person by name.
I for one missed out on many things with friends as I would never call anyone back for the simple fear of stammering badly to my friends parents or siblings. Memorably when I was about 13 or 14 one of my school friends father died and I could not call her up and tell her I was thinking of her. Over the school holidays she called me to arrange to go out and I never called her back. She thought I didn’t care and we drifted apart. One of my regrets.
However today in 2017, you can imessage, email, whatsapp and a ton of other ways that you can catch up with someone, arrange a night out or just have a ‘chat’.
The problem with this however is that we lose the tone of voice, we lose emotion (and yes I know you can add in smiley faces etc) and things can get misconstrued. Being sarcastic by text message is usually not a good idea.
With many apps now we can order food to our door, as many of us would never order a Chinese takeaway, or ring for a cab. With these apps we can pretty much do anything. We can do our banking, food shopping, book foreign holidays, buy train tickets, contact schools, make doctor’s appointments, make hotel and restaurant reservations all without dealing with another human being.
Sadly this boost of convenience also has its bad points….
More employers will want teleconference style interviews and if you have hidden away from using this facility on your phone it is going to almost impossible to come across confident and calm.
Intercom systems to get in and out of new buildings can be hard work too for people who stammer, and the automated telephone options of utility providers asking to say what the call is about, giving over account details etc is just a ‘no go’ for many.
The messaging and app generation is making it easier to hide behind our speech impediment with the reflection that we are less likely to seek help or support as after all, we are getting on fine, we are getting the things we need to do done. For me, I try to not use these things too much, I will ring a hotel directly and usually manage to get a better deal. I will call my friends and hear their voice and enjoy those relationships properly.
If we take away those apps and message facilities what are we left with? A lot of the time convenience comes with a higher price and for people who stammer that price is not just in monetary value. This technology is taking us away from being almost forced to interact with people, we now simply have no need to speak and if we want to we can hide away. This in itself breeds loneliness and anxiety when then being faced with any verbal challenges.
So I feel less is more, yes use those apps to get voucher code discounts, text to say you are running late but do not let them take over real conversation and experiences. Phone your mum instead of texting ‘hope you are doing ok’. Save a few quid booking that hotel directly and call into the doctors and get to know the staff. The world can be scary, but it is also filled with wonderful places and people and I think sometimes our noses are too close to our iphones to see them.