The texting revolution could not have come soon enough, I say. Email is the bastion of good old fashioned communication, letter-writing for the digitized. Texting is the journalistic approach to email. But speaking on the phone? It’s contrary to human behavior.
It will not shock anyone that I prefer writing. My brain is wired to see words rather than say them, though I speak well. When I get an email from truenorthe.com from a client seeking a phone conversation, my eyes bulge. Dear God, the dreaded phone. I’ve also gotten calls from neighbors, acquaintances, etc, and I’m sorry to say those calls go straight to Voicemail and remain there, like some leftover meatloaf shoved to the back of the refrigerator. I tell myself to call back, but I’m rarely motivated. Even people I like, I’d rather not call them.
Talking on the phone is like speaking to someone in the same room, only your back is to them. You hear their voice but you can’t see their face, you cannot watch their body language. If you’ve heard and believe the adage that 80-90 percent of communication is nonverbal, then using the phone for a conversation is a fraction of a proper human experience. It’s amputated. Especially talking to someone for the first time, you cannot interpret their reactions to what you are saying. It’s not being able to gesticulate, demonstrate or smile.
Face to face is the immediate human connection experience, because sometimes words aren’t necessary. We’re emotional creatures, we like to act things out. We can gauge how the conversation is going based on facial expression or body language: this person thinks my story is funny, or this person thinks my story is boring, time to wrap it up. Sure, there are those among us who cannot read people and will continue to drone on about their dilemma of what color to paint their walls, Bone or Navajo, but I’d like to think most of us have some kind of clue.
With writing, I can read over what’s been written. Do I like what I’m trying to say? Am I communicating the idea properly? How’s my tone? Too serious, too lackadaisical? How many times have I used the word “that”? When you receive a letter you can re-read it, re-live it, keep it as a record or token. It’s a photographic conversation, preserved.
In letters, emails, and texts, we can escape from verbal crutches such as “um,” “uh,” “you know,” “I mean,” “like,” (though we might suffer from other bad habits like LOL). We can plan what we want to say and exercise patience in our response.
I call a few people. My mom for one, a close friend for two…..and that’s it. If a person is long distance, I’d rather use Skype for video conferencing, but even that’s tainted by the small, square, distracting image of me in the bottom corner. Yuck! Does my face look like that whenever I talk?
When I hear or read people complaining that too many of us prefer texting to phone conversations, I get miffed. Not all of us are gregarious chatters. Some of us hate phone conversations, for the reasons listed above. We don’t hate you and we don’t hate human interaction. We hate our senses being handicapped. We enjoy expressing our thoughts in fuller ways, with our body language or judicious word selection. We want to limit the risk of being misunderstood.
What about you? Have you changed your outgoing message to “Hang up and send me a text” yet? Do you feel paralyzed when your phone rings and you know you must answer it?