The Advent of New Technology and Relationships: Written vs. Spoken Words

by Melody Jean

The Advent of New Technology and Relationships: Spoken vs Written WordsDo you text? Email? IM? Facebook? Call?

So many ways to communicate – so little time. Yet, you know what they say “too much of a good thing…”

My “Aha”

The way that we communicate with others in our lives hit me spot-on the other day. I was dealing with a tedious, yet delicate situation that had the potential for miscommunication at the most optimal level.

What was so interesting, after it came to pass, is that we resolved the issue through text and voicemail messages. No phone calls, and certainly not face to face.

I’ll note here that this was not my choice. I would have preferred to communicate on the phone and pursued this. Yet my counterpart responded to my voicemail with a text. Hence, we resolved it through the written word.

New Technology – How, When, and Where

I’m sure you’ve pondered the advent of new technology in various ways.

You likely find yourself at times considering how, when, and where to communicate with others. Whether a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, your children, parents, a new romantic interest, coworker, or even your boss.

There are so many different mediums, that often it seems the lines blur between which approach is best.

Or do they?

Substance & Understandability

I determine the method based largely upon how substantial the issue is. If it’s weighty, at the very least, a phone call becomes necessary. At the very most I will meet face to face. This way, I can better gauge their reaction throughout.

Of equal importance is whether or not I believe that my message has the capacity to be misconstrued by the recipient. If so, I follow the same rule of thumb.

Diminishing Human Interaction

Does texting, emailing, instant messaging and Facebooking take away from the human interaction that we may otherwise experience with a new friend, love interest, or another newbie in our life?

Does it lessen the level of intimacy that can develop if we spend more time utilizing phone, or in person approaches?

Can it potentially diminish our interactions with those we have established relationships with and in so doing create distance?

It has the potential to.

It Can Be Meaningful

Yet, I also know that some have exchanged very meaningful information over long emails.

Further email, text and other written methods allow time to gather our thoughts and to develop messages that may better convey what we intend than if we tried to speak the same words.

Void of Emotion and Full of Ambiguity

Again, on the flip-side, written forms of communication are notoriously void of deep emotion. We can’t rely on emoticon symbols such as smileys ( 🙂 😛 😉 😀 ) to express everything.

Further, what we write is really left up to the interpreter, and in the end leaves a lot of room for ambiguity.

Lack of Body Language

I think one of the primary flaws of written communication, in any form, whether it’s Facebook, instant messaging, text or email, is that we don’t get to immediately see the other’s reaction.

There’s no smile or grimace in response. Nor do we see him or her tense at the mere suggestion of something, or their sigh of relief when we alleviate a concern.

Body language is one of the most powerful indicators of how someone perceives our messages.

The Waiting Game — Anticipation

Admit it. Hands down one of the worst feelings is to wait for a response to a text, email or Facebook message if it’s in response to a weighty issue.

With the written word we have to wait much longer to gauge what the recipient took away from our message. Therefore, I’ll share some words of the wise (pun intended — words).

If I know that I’ll become eager waiting for a response or what I plan to convey will ignite a level of anticipation to the point that it may be distracting, I wait to say it.

I wait for the next time that we can speak on the phone and/or see each other in person. This way I receive the response immediately and it leaves little room for miscommunication.

Further, I can address any adverse reactions right there. I’ve found that I’d rather wait in anticipation of sharing the news (which I have some control over) than in anticipation for a response (of which I have little control over).

Text Frequency

Nowadays so many people begin romantic relationships by defaulting to text as the primary means of communication. I’ve seen this more times than I can count.

When it’s that “obsessional” texting the relationship rarely ends with a good outcome. Even if the relationship drags on for a month, a year or longer, from what I’ve seen – they end. I’m not saying this happens every time, I’m saying it happens most times.

Let me explain.

In the early stage of courtship obsessional texters usually do it with intensity. It’s extreme and at a level that most experts would deem unhealthy. Not only is it daily, it can sometimes be hourly, all day long, and sometimes every chance that the new couple has to partake.

At some point they end up with little to talk about in person since they literally walk side by side through each other’s day via text messages. They’ve shared every nuance and happening so there’s nothing left at day’s end.

Additionally, there is no way in h.e.l.l. to keep up that level of constant communication for any duration that is reasonable. It’s distracting and unproductive. As a result, one among the pair will begin to pull back – they resume claiming the space they lost.

In turn, the other is usually unsure why their counterpart is backing-off, cooling down, so insecurity ensues. Consequently, they text more frequently, even with fewer responses. They behave in this vein until they text their way right out of what could have been a positive, long lasting connection. In some respects, they end-up texting the relationship to an early death.

The change in the communication pattern is unavoidable, yet in most cases it’s the final straw in an already delicate union.

That which I just mentioned is by far one of the most damaging communication bloopers that I see replay itself in the lives of many. Especially my single-something friends.

Frequency Coupled With Timing – A Closer Look

When it’s not obsessional, some place weight on the number of texts that they receive daily from their significant other.

Even the time of day that the texts arrive holds a place of importance. I’ve listened to many friends comment that they expect a text first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night. This way they know he or she is thinking about them.

Uhm. Ok. I want to ask what the requirement was before text, but I refrain from saying anything. To each his own. I’m thankful that’s not my own.

So with this thought — is the frequency to which someone contacts in every shape and form a sign of their varying interest level? If he or she texts often throughout the day to “check-in” and calls every night – does this show that they’re enamored? Perhaps to some degree.

Yet, some truly believe that the time of day and the number of written “check-ins” throughout the day symbolize a solid connection.

Welcome to the advent of new technology.

Response Time – Tell Me What it Means

Of further interest is response time. Some people expect a response to texts immediately. Yet others purposefully do not respond instantly because they do not want to appear “available” all of the time.

Are response times indicators of the level to which someone cares? Does it depict the level of interest? For instance, the quicker the response, the more he or she is into you?

It’s hard to tell, but at the end of the day …..

The Jury’s Still Out

The jury deciding what and how much is too much, what is acceptable, healthy or unhealthy.

While we continue to forge ahead into this overabundant technology age it’s wise to remember something. Cavemen didn’t have phones, email, or text, nor did our founding fathers. Yet, they had beneficial and fruitful relationships. In fact sometimes I think that perhaps their relationships were even more so rewarding than many we see today.

Things that make you go hhhhhhmmm … hhhhmmmmm.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: