The Effects of Faster and Cheaper Communication

The Effects of Faster Cheaper Communication can be hard to notice (and also challenging to handle when we recognize them). The cost of communication has steadily fallen since humans showed up all those years ago. The pace of decline has accelerated as computing power and network speeds continue their exponential growth. While the price has declined the speed with which we can issue communication has gone the other direction. It is faster than we could have imagined at the turn of the 21st century. What does this mean for our quality of life?

Though we may not think of them often the positives effects of faster cheaper communication are significant. Worker productivity in almost every profession has gone up drastically. We can sign and send documents and images at negligible cost. This raises everyone’s standard of living. Our ability to feel connected to people across the miles has been transformed. Rather than the infrequent letter and occasional expensive telephone call, we can enjoy the high fidelity of a video call with excellent audio. What’s not to like?

Because of its low cost and lightning-fast velocity, the volume of communication has grown to epic amounts, requiring us to spend a fair amount of time sorting and prioritizing it (not to speak of actually reading or looking at it), and eventually taking useful action on a very small percentage of it. Another important challenge is determining the accuracy of it. The speed and efficiency with which we can send and receive information can sometimes cause us to miss or overlook defects or even outright falsehoods. The results of this “information overload” can range from a vague feeling of doubt to high stress, misunderstanding, and ultimately bad outcomes that can occur from poor decisions made with inaccurate information.

What to do?

We can take better control of the information we send and receive by spending more time contemplating what to actually read and what to send. As with many things in life, less volume and higher quality is a recipe for optimal enjoyment and meaning.

Jeff Linroth

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