Last year a group of friends and I did the annual St. Patrick’s Day Run in Pensacola. It’s a crazy party masquerading as a race with over 15,000 participants. As we lined up to run my friend Jessica was struggling to contact some of our other friends that we had planned to meet. The huge amount of people had slowed down the phone networks and text messages were not connecting. I made what seemed to me an obvious suggestion, maybe try to call them? “Oh yes I had forgotten phones can do that too”. She was only half-joking. Jessica is not alone; we may have forgotten the one thing that the phone was originally created for.
I love the flexibility of the range of online tools available to us and am an early adopter of many new technologies. I do however think we do ourselves and our relationships a disservice by relying on typing as our primary mode of communication. The use of text messages is filled with the possibility for miscommunication.
I once took a class taught by a trainer who did not care about political correctness. He claimed that any communication breakdown was caused by the presence of an idiot on one or both ends of a conversation! I recently discovered that an invitation I had extended to a friend was not accepted because I was not clear in my communication and the recipient was waiting on me for another message. When I read back my texts I saw that the ‘idiot’ was me. I had left too much ambiguity, even I was unsure as to who was supposed to respond to who. A simple phone call would have clarified things instantly. I am also still a little irritated with someone who failed to show up for coffee and yet maybe, just maybe they are waiting on me?
For anyone currently navigating the dating scene especially online, things get even more complicated. It’s a good job my relationship is not reliant on texts; the longest message he usually sends me is ‘word’ and more commonly ‘k’. When you are getting to know a potential love interest and are trying to read their intentions, a text message is extremely inadequate. I wonder how many beautiful relationships failed to launch due to a confusing paragraph or a tragically comic case of autocorrect? A strategically placed smiley face cannot replace the nuance of an actual conversation. Oh and a quick PSA from my friends who have recently dipped their toes into the perplexing world of online dating. A close-up photograph of a sex organ is neither welcome nor accepted as a substitute for conversation. Although I doubt that any of my readers would be so rude!
Texts can be useful, but they should only be the beginning of a conversation or maybe a follow up. Life is too short and my fingers are too fat for all that typing. If you are confirming a meeting or sending me a silly meme great, but if you want to talk… In the words of the classic Blondie song, Call Me!