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New app enables surface level communication

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In the fast pace of 21st century life, most people simply do not have enough time to return texts or phone calls. They are easily sucked into the all-consuming vortex of work and other activities which do not allow people enough time to express their appreciation for their loved ones.

“Thoughts” emerged as an app that allows for easier communication, created to compensate for this lack of free time many people experience. With one click, “Thoughts” enables users to let others know that they are thinking of them by sending an emoji that communicates their feelings.

When you open the app, smiling faces of your friends and family appear on a blue backdrop. If you click on one of your loved ones, you are able to choose one of 11 expressions to quickly relay a message to that person. Your friend or family member immediately receives the expression, and they are made aware that although you do not have time for a lengthy conversation with them, you are thinking about them.

The app is extremely convenient for busy people who wish to stay in touch with each other because communication is made as simple as one click. This app doesn’t involve wracking your brain to think of what to say, or feeling nervous when you open a message because you will have to come up with a response.

While “Thoughts” makes it possible to maintain relationships through emojis, the ease of this communication app comes at a price.

In the progression of communication platforms, from in-person, to phone calls, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other forms of social media, each new iteration is a lesser form of interpersonal connection. With the introduction of each new communication platform, users take another step away from each other and toward their screens. It is undeniable that we seem to have lost a sense of intimacy with each other, as we are now able to talk to people who aren’t in the same place as us, whenever we want.

Life is easier when we don’t have to coordinate around other people’s schedules in order to talk to them, but interpersonal connections are being buried beneath the convenience of a text or Facebook message. People seem to have forgotten that the point of communication is to connect with others. Oftentimes, this involves more than a simple expression or phrase. This app is further enabling surface level communication, making deeper conversations entirely avoidable.

There is no denying that technological developments in communication have brought serious advantages. People living far away from their families are now able to talk to each other on a daily basis, and people can easily contact others in ways that were not possible just a decade ago.

“Thoughts” is not the first app, and definitely won’t be the last, to offer a simplified form of communication. But with an overabundance of communication methods, the app seems slightly redundant and is unable to contribute to meaningful interactions between people – meaningful interactions that most of us have lost and are trying to regain.

Jenny Dao ’17 (dao@stolaf.edu) is from Vung Tau, Vietnam. She majors in economics and political science.