Communication is an incredibly fluid item in our society. We have reached a time when we have the opportunity to not only speak with others face-to-face or via phone call, but can also text, email, instant message, and DM. This is both incredibly convenient for our busy lifestyles and potentially risky for our social skills.
When speaking with someone in-person, there are countless non-verbal ques to be interpreted. If someone has their arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed, they may be frustrated or upset. Even when you are on the phone, you can hear the person’s tone and volume to help translate the conversation’s meaning.
Now let’s think about texting. It’s such a fundamental part of many people’s days. With conversations via text messaging, it’s difficult to interpret meaning at times. For example, the word “okay”. If you are speaking with someone in-person and they respond with “okay” in a cheerful voice and a smile on their face, you will interpret that the conversation is going well. On the other hand, if you are texting and someone writes “ok” in response to your remark, you may think that they are being short with you or are irritated when, in actuality, they may have meant it as a simple response. There is so much left to assumption and previous encounters with a person when text messaging.
Sure, there are punctuation and emoji options, but everyone has a different perception of what those mean. For example, some people (yes, I mean people like me) tend to add exclamation points consistently throughout messages. I worry that if I don’t add that particular punctuation in my responses, my messages will come across as too serious or uninterested. Other people, however, never use exclamation points in their text messages. The same goes for emojis. Oh, and don’t even get me started on abbreviations. For example, “TBH I’m ROFL RN. I just posted the video.” may make sense to you, but for someone who doesn’t know that TBH= to be honest, ROFL= rolling on the floor laughing, and RN= right now, it might just be a bunch of random letters mixed into your conversation. (Abbreviations aren’t my thing -for the most part- but I definitely know people who text like this and sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say). Everyone has a different interpretation of the appropriateness of these additions to sentences and the frequency in which they should be used. This can lead to misunderstanding in conversations.
Technology makes it incredibly easy to connect with people around the world, but there is no connection quite like a real life in-person relationship. I 100% prefer a face-to-face conversation over a written one. This leaves much less to the imagination and is exponentially more personal. The written language is a very powerful tool, but I think we have a social obligation to uphold which includes containing more spoken word in our conversations.
The increasing success of electronic forms of communication have not only decreased human contact, but have also negatively affected the social skills of the most recent generations according to Liberty Classical Academy, New York Behavioral Health, and The Odyssey (to name a few).
What will this mean for the generations to come? Do you prefer in-person or virtual conversations? Why do you think that is? Did you always have this preference or has it changed over time?
Break outside of your comfort zone today and have a (face-to-face) conversation with someone new.