The Pitfalls of Texting

Yesterday I learned a valuable lesson. If you have something to say to someone important in your life, perhaps texting isn’t the best way to do it. I just learned this the hard way. I made the mistake of complaining to my boss about an issue that wasn’t really that significant through a short text. He perceived my three sentences in a way I had not intended, and before I could explain my thoughts further, he reacted harshly. We went back and forth in texting world for a little while, but it was well into the next day before things calmed down. The human voice, whether in person, or over the phone, can give different meaning to the simplest words and phrases. Those same words and phrases appearing on a screen can have several different meanings, depending on how the reader interprets them.

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, when most human interaction was done through telephone calls, face-to-face meetings, or handwritten letters. If you needed to communicate with someone, typically, a real conversation would take place. Now, most people I know prefer to communicate via texting or e-mail. For me, texting is great if you have a simple question for someone that requires a yes or no answer. But if it involves anything that’s dynamic or complicated, intricate details are often hard to convey in 140 characters or less. I can’t even think of how many times I’ve had long winded “conversations” with someone who is important in my life, texting back and forth for 20 or 30 minutes, or sometimes more. I often wonder, why didn’t we just talk on the phone? This would have been a five-minute phone call. Sometimes in the middle of those situations, I’ve tried to call the other party, and they didn’t answer, but they do answer the texts. Why are we afraid of direct human interaction? I know there’s no going back, and texting is here for good. But I think that next time I have something important to say to my boss, or anyone else important in my life, if there’s any question about how my message will be perceived, I’ll wait until I can do it in person, or at least in a real conversation.

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