Can Social Media Replace Verbal Communication?

If I told you that you couldn’t speak for one month, would you be able to do it? That’s the challenge entrepreneur Clark Harris, aka Silent Clark, has issued to himself as he sets out to raise $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by communicating only via social media channels.

The regularly chatty Clark started what he is dubbing “The Social Media Experiment,” where he will talk to friends, family, strangers and even his wife, only through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and Google Chat. Talking, writing, emailing, text messaging and sign language are all banned.

No one can argue against the cause; the goal of “silencing” cancer by raising awareness and money is a noble cause. But the more interesting question to me is whether or not verbal communication is still a key component to life. The rise of social media has certainly made it possible, but I question if the quality of life gets watered down. Silent Clark is keeping a blog of his day-to-day interactions, which I think give good insight into the advantages and short-comings of social media.

Clark has attended a wedding and a birthday party, and says he was able to get by fine without uttering a word. However, trying to sell tickets on Craigslist or attending a funeral, have proven to be difficult challenges. Heck, the poor guy couldn’t type fast enough to get his salad dressing on the side during dinner the other night. A small price to pay in the fight against cancer.

Creative folks can challenge Silent Clark. Let him know what you want him to do by only communicating via social media, and there’s a chance he might do it.


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