Thursday, September 9, 2010

Texting: the Good and the Bad

I was intrigued by a class discussion we had on the effects that new digital forms of communication have had on our language, communication norms, and interactions. For me, text messaging and other forms of digital communication have been around for a large part of my life As such, my personal habits of communication have largely developed in and around a digital culture. However, I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of someone for whom this is not the case. So I asked my grandpa what he saw as some of the advantages and disadvantages of text messaging, and this is what he said:

"I don’t believe texting is a flat-out a bad way to communicate. It has its advantages, but isn’t used appropriately much of the time. My brief opinions:

The Good: With texting, I think that the mind has to quickly think/run-through what it wants to communicate, and how to do so effectively and succinctly. In telephone conversations many people just (excuse the phrase), run-off at the mouth, with a kind of stream of consciousness dictating what is said (and heard); with the parties often thinking before speaking, and not attempting to exercise good verbal skills – knowing that each can ring the other person right back if their initial conversation was too sloppy and uncertain. Granted, texting can result in the same, but usually doesn’t I suspect, because even the most proficient person at texting usually doesn’t want to waste the finger movement.

The Bad: 1) One downside to texting, in my mind, is that it is often too easy to inadvertently send a message which is not correctly understood by the recipient. With texting there it is difficult to place emphasis or emotion on a particular phrase or thought the way it is intended. There are usually at least two (and usually more) ways to essentially say the same words or phrases...but with very different nuances. 2) The biggest negative on texting is the circumstance that seemingly all who are regular and avid texters...blow conversational courtesy to smithereens, They actually believe that it is OK, and that they can effectively carry-on a texting “conversation” while verbally communicating with someone close by. I have had many of these conversations (a couple with you even), in which my emotional self just wants to walk away and say, “Let me know when you are ready to have a conversation”. In fact, I think that I will start doing this!”
I hope you found his insight as informative—and perhaps as instructive—as I did…