The computer has been thrust upon us and is being embraced with mixed emotions.
For some it is a godsend, bringing speed of communication to people and places you could never dream of reaching before.
For others it lacks the personal touch, the depth and subtlety that only verbal communication can bring.
Our feelings, emotions, moods, wants, likes and dislikes can all be communicated instantly to a worldwide audience from the comfort of our beds or the tops of mountains on the far side of the world using a host of gadgets and equipment.
Dolidh Young from Denny is a prime example of this. The 28-year-old has just been named a Google+ ‘hometown hero’ for developing a loyal ‘fan base’, connecting with over 300,000 people through her online page.
However, in the social media age when communicating with other humans is being done remotely, the art of speaking face-to-face is still the most effective says the director of a local speakers club.
William Dryburgh from Brightons, president of the well-known Denny Speakers Club, knows better than anyone the fear people have of public speaking - glossophobia, to be exact.
The 70-year-old HGV driver by day has been a member of the club for 20 years. He has concerns that communicating remotely can exacerbate the phobia and ignore youngsters who will grow up in the Facebook generation.
While people have become adept at uploading what they want to say online, the speaking guru believes a smiley or a sad face :-( doesn’t quite have the “sensory attachment” brought about from verbal communication.
He said: “In this day and age where text messaging, social networking and one line e-mails seem to have taken precedence, we could be forgiven for thinking that the art of speaking to communicate our intentions was no longer important.
“Not so. Research shows that verbal and face-to-face is still the best way to communicate, given the sensory attachment that we form with others through verbal expression.
“Consider the inspirational speeches given by John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the way they were delivered and the emotional attachment was historical to say the least.
“It is unlikely that any transcript posted through an e-mail distribution list would have had the same effect.
However, the fear of public speaking is a common one that is still high on most people’s list of fears they would like to conquer.
This is a shame, given that those who regularly practice public speaking have been found to benefit from greater confidence and an increased ability to construct effective arguments for persuading and motivating others.”
He added: “I’m not against social media, it’s a good thing. It’s just worrying that a lot of people will now use this instead of having oral communication skills. You can’t use a Facebook post or an e-mail to get you through a job interview.”
Dolidh, who works from home as a web developer, disagrees and sees the social media as a force for good, opening up the world to people. She was used as a ‘beta tester’ by Google for their Google + product before it went public, so you could say she is an online ‘Dolidh the Sheep’ and knows what she’s talking about.
Through Google + Dolidh starts up ‘hangouts’ (internet-based video chats) and has spoken with Spice Girl Mel C, and astronaut music presenter Reggie Yates.
On Facebook she describes herself as a “pixie ninja, web developer, actress, geek” and shares pictures, reads stories, has sung songs and had a Halloween party on Google +, which 250 million have now signed up to with 3.4 billion photos uploaded.
Dolidh said: “People love the Scottish accent. I usually do at least three posts a day, but I’ve made some great friends across the world.
“I’ve met up with loads of people too, so we do have face-to-face time together. Being part of an Olympics hangout with Mel C and Reggie Yates was brilliant. I did one from The Mound in Edinburgh in front of the Olympic rings.
“I have video links with people from loads of different cultures and basically you share what you want to share. A German friend of mine even learned English online through chats. He’s fluent now.
“The US is leading the way in social media and more and more people and companies are using it. I think it’s something that will be very useful to know about in the future, especially in my line of work.”