I do not want to join the camp of those (even if it’s a device-free camp) who proclaim that technology makes us less empathetic. Empathy takes on other forms, that might be true.
As a recent piece in New York Times by
“But we are resilient. The psychologist Yalda T. Uhls was the lead author on a 2014 study of children at a device-free outdoor camp. After five days without phones or tablets, these campers were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group. What fostered these new empathic responses? They talked to one another. In conversation, things go best if you pay close attention and learn how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is easier to do without your phone in hand. Conversation is the most human and humanizing thing that we do.”
In a video conversation with me, writer Colin Moerdyke in response to this debate, suggested that people sometimes want to concentrate on text, obliterating distracting visual information that dilutes you during a face-to-face conversation.
I noticed that people of younger generations (20 years old vs 30 years old), as well as in more technologically advanced spaces (USA versus Russia, for instance), where the Wi-Fi / Internet accessibility etc. are ubiquitous, for instance, generally do prefer textual conversation to a call / video call / face-to-face interaction.
Maybe it brings less anxiety and puts them more in control of what is being said, and also gives time for consideration. Perhaps it would mean they are less skillful conversationalists in a face-to-face interactions, having trouble of reading emotions off of the faces of others, but suppose it makes them better analytical thinkers and enables them to construct mathematically precise word formulas. (Why not?)