Sinkholes

The other day someone told me I was living in the past, and reminded me, quite archly, what year it is.

Let me back up….

This someone called because they were under the assumption that matters of emotional delicacy could be handled via text messaging. When they realized, much too late in the “conversation,” that messages had been misinterpreted, they became frantic.

Backing up again….

I do text. It is a quick, efficient way to check in on people, particularly in emergencies, provide updates about any number of situations when necessary, and convey brief, time-sensitive messages. It has its uses.

But getting to my caller. They read me the “conversation.” It was long. It was rambling, at times incoherent. Worse, the only tone that came across was anger.

Another digression….

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was this: “the most important thing you can ever know about technology is when NOT to use it.”

…which was the point I tried to make on the phone to my caller…

… who then gave me a shrill lecture on how people communicate in 2019.

So I said this:

There are times texting is appropriate, and times it is not. There are times it accomplishes exactly what it needs to, and times it sucks you in and drops you into a giant sinkhole, leaving no way of escape.

Texting is not a substitute for communication which demands vocal interaction.

You can learn a great deal when you LISTEN to people on the phone. You may not see their faces, but the timbre and changes in their voices, slowness or rapidity with which they respond, speaks volumes, and allows you to effectively shape what you say. And, personal, voice-to-voice communication affords one other critical advantage: it allows interruption. If someone is misinterpreting, or going off on a tangent, or getting hostile or breaking down, you can short-circuit them, call them on their behavior, or provide the type of comfort they need. NONE of that is possible in a text.

***

I’d rather be able to communicate meaningfully and productively. I’d rather have a sense of a person’s humanity.

I’d rather be a dinosaur.

©2019 All Rights Reserved


4 thoughts on “Sinkholes

  1. Oh, music to my heart! I totally agree with you Barbara! I am sick of text messages. For one thing, my fingers are too big so I find it uncomfortable and slow. Funnily enough, I am writing a piece about emojis at the moment…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t wait to read your emoji piece, Katia. I do use them (said with a tinge of embarrassment), but I’m trying not to. They are so facile…like texting, indicative of the way our brains are getting soft and numb.

      Liked by 1 person

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