March 1, 2015

In recent years, we have had a massive change in the way we communicate. First computers gave us the ability to "talk" (type) with each other even though we were many miles away, and didn't want to pay long distance charges. Cell phones gave us the ability to talk nationwide to anyone we want from almost anywhere. But do we talk? Mostly, no. We rely on a simple typed messages of communication where we don't have to be invested and pay 100% to the conversation as it comes in spurts. Yes, we text.

Texting gives us a very easy ability to communicate short ideas with short sentences, or parts thereof. But nowadays, it seems easier to text people than to talk to them. But more and more, people want to have long conversations over text messages.

In a way it makes sense. In this world where we are constantly multi-tasking, it is hard to take the time out to just sit down and have a conversation. Even when we watch television, we are doing multiple things. How many of us spend time on our phones or tablets? And look at all the garbage they put on the TV screen to make you do more than one thing at once. But texting means typing something, doing something else until a reply comes that you need to respond to. It truly allows you to multi-task instead of dedicating a block of time to one thing.

But texting has its problems. And these problems started long before texting was invented. Back in the day, it started with something called Instant Messaging where one would sit at a computer and type to friends. And that created a whole new language. First, we came up with the abbreviations like 'LOL' (for those that don't speak this language, it stands for Laugh Out Loud). It was a way of expressing emotion, and letting the person on the other end know you enjoyed their comment as they could not see you smiling.  (Unfortunately, I know people that speak using these shortcuts.)  With texting, we shortened the language even more with things like, 'r u c ing it' (or in English, are you seeing it).

As a writer, I know that words have energy and power. And I try to write so the meaning is clear. Each word has to be placed specifically so that the meaning of what I am trying to say can not be misconscrewed. But with texting, we talk in short sentence pieces so things can and do get misunderstood a lot. And what we miss the most with texting (or any typed messaging communication) are the voice inflections, emotions, and inclinations.

A good example of these is to take one word and see how many ways you can say it, and how the meaning changes each time. For example, the word 'yeah'. With texting, it is just one word, and we who receive it read it any way we want with whatever inflection or emotion we have going on in our heads at the time. But when we speak it, we could say 'yeah' and the other person would know by the inflection that we are accepting but not real excited about what they said. Or it could be 'yeah' with excitement behind it. Or it could be 'yeah' noncommittally which would be right in between the other two.

The point is that we are losing out ability to communicate with each other because technology has made it easy for us not to talk. And with this comes many misunderstandings and heartache. I know. I may have lost a friend because we both reacted to text on a screen when we didn't hear the intent that would have carried in the other's voice. And when we finally talked, things got straightened out and understood, but damage had still been done.

Writing is a good thing. I write what passes through my mind in my online journals and in these newsletters. I pass on things that I hope are beneficial, and I hope that they carry the right energy and meaning. But writing and texting are so different, that one is not writing at all. Texting is good for a short message, or a hello, or just a short comment. Conversations need to be spoken to be understood completely. Without that, our society is lost. Our society has just gotten to the point that dealing with others electronically is easier than actually dealing with them. There is no coming back from the 'power off' switch.

So next time you are looking to have a conversation, pick up the phone and call instead of typing. I think you'll find that it is more meaningful hearing the other person's voice.

Take care, and happy conversing.