Text, Voice, Technology and Language

In the age of text messages, many things are communicated in very condensed fashion. Unless you grasp the context of these text fragments it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to understand their meaning.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius says, “… brevity is the soul of wit.” However, giving feelings, thoughts and ideas short shrift by reducing them to nano-passages is not a sign of communicative genius. It is merely a sign of technology’s impact on culture along with a lack of collective mindfulness.

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Technological advancement without philosophical evolution is not progress. The next time you are about to send a text, repeat it to yourself three times. Make it a mantra of meaning and mindfulness.

What is the great rush in communicating with each other? Once upon a time, people sat in coffeehouses for hours discussing all facets of life. Today, there are many people sitting in coffee shops. What are they doing? They are sitting alone sending out snippets of text to people in other coffee shops doing the same.

If regular length, face-to-face conversations can lead to misunderstandings, what can we expect of 5 to ten words in text?

Being brief has its merits. Texting someone to say, “Meet me @ 6,” might be perfectly appropriate. However, what about sending this piece of text to a good friend, “Happy B-day!” Now, if we precede that message with a birthday card or follow it with a phone call or get together with that person later in the day that would be one thing. But how many people are passing up the opportunity to speak on the phone or meet in person in favor of text fragments?

Technology might provide us with the means of doing something. That does not mean we should do it. Sure, we can text someone to express a heartfelt sentiment. If we have the choice, though, doesn’t a phone call make more sense? Speaking on the phone provides for greater real time interaction and clarification of what is being said.

Voice gives us the ability to hear accentuation, tone and cadence. Speaking with someone on the phone is like singing a duet with them. Texting them is like exchanging lyrics. I’d bet most people enjoy listening to music far more than just reading lyrics.

Text is great for basic communication, things like, “Pick up milk, thnx.” Beyond that, we might want to start picking up the phone again or better yet, meeting in person.

Image: sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at CYInterview.com. For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

You can reach me with your questions and comments at Jay@CYinterview.com Like today’s column? Check back frequently.