Society in Decline
Text messaging via mobile has been available to the masses since 1993 when Nokia made it a feature of their phones: enter T9 and QWERTY and stuff like this 🙂 😀 .
Texting has broken away from messages sent through network providers and migrated onto other platforms from Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn to the now notorious WhatsApp.
Texting is relatively quick.
It’s instantaneous (if the network is fine).
Multiple ‘conversations’ can be held at one time to multiple recipients.
Messaging is convenient.
People can get back to us ‘in their own time’.
You can send memes.
So what’s wrong with texting?
Plenty. Let’s get into it.
Communication should be about expressing ourselves – clearly.
Once upon a time the use of characters to create emojis existed, and even with the ubiquitous yellow emoji symbols it’s not always easy to convey meaning. Texts are generally not clear enough. Even with emojis, there’s too much room for misunderstandings to occur.
A lot of people finished school but didn’t learn English well and are unable to spell or be bothered to correct misspellings.
Not such a bad thing in social settings but not great in business/formal ones.
Emojis allow people who cannot spell or write or necessarily read to communicate without learning their native language.
Text messages don’t allow for a conversation flow unless done in real time.
Sending a text at 10:23am, getting a reply at 1.10pm, sending a text back at 1.15pm and not getting a reply until the next day is not a conversation, that’s a messaging board service.
When allowed to they cut into our concentration, one solution being to be less available, or have a limited window.
People are confusing a communication with contact. Messaging is not a good route.
Texting and messaging has allowed a generation – and more – to fool themselves into thinking they are in contact, that they are socialising. It’s dangerous territory.
And I totally get social anxiety being an issue for some, I used to have it, it took real world interaction and facing the fear not texting myself away from it.
Really, the difference between a phone call, or video link, and a text is barely comparable. When we hear a voice we react differently, we learn to understand micro communications, tone of voice, and holy shit! – there might be a pause while people think.
The reflective pause is a thing of devastation to some people. What if there was a momentary silence? Isn’t that like, a horror movie with multiple sequels?
The text message allows for little accountability which is one of the major failings of it as a communication method.
It’s too easy to fire off messages with little intent behind them, little engagement. And as mentioned the reply is not in a conversational style necessarily. There’s frequent gaps.
That’s nothing like speaking with someone, which is an essential skill needed to unlock good things in this world.
Any one who has been on the dating scene or in a relationship with some one and used texting as a means of communication will attest that it leaves the door wide open to be head fucked and ghosted or played with.
There’s plenty of people using modern comms as psychological torture devices. It allows cowardice and immaturity to thrive on a planet lacking in honesty and responsibility.
Because again, the text can be sent, but there’s no accountability on the other side to reply at at particular time, within a reasonable time period.
People can also send any texts, pictures or video you send them to one or many people – instantly. So there’s also that element of having left evidence for 90%+ of dialogue. Unless you have very weird pals that carry voice recorders around with them, then that’s not a concern for anyone when speaking to a person.
The digital landscape has set fire to reality and is watching it burn
The social fabric of society is like an old sail on an abandoned boat, flapping in the wind of wi-fi and rotting from the damp of salty pixels.
Texting has reduced interpersonal communication to a rare skill.
I’ve worked in a place with younger people and if there’s no drink involved, or there’s nothing that’s just happened to talk about they can’t hold a conversation. There’s no questions. Just an overriding anxiety and nervousness. If they can be bothered to look up from the blueish glow of their phone screens. I jest at the last part, not least because I’m tired of the blame the youngsters narrative. Just about everyone is absorbed in their phone, a sort of grotesque attachment and impossible love.
I’ve been there too.
I’ve gone through periods when I’ve been scrolling and tapping pointlessly on my phone in particular, to realise that much of what I was doing was nothing much and that it was a habitual response not a conscious one much of the time. It’s the equivalent of getting into a car without driving.
Psychologically, the advent of being able to communicate without communicating is and has devastating consequences now and well into the future.
Why tell someone you love them when you can send a heart emoji?
Why say you’re doing fine when you’re not? (And someone could tell if you weren’t from your voice – I’m not necessarily saying they’d care…but that would require revaluating your friends)
Why bother to reply at all when you don’t want to stay in contact?
It’s actually difficult, yes difficult, to give a damn about someone on an emotional level when you’re just seeing words, GIFs and emojis.*
Without direct contact, we lose our humanity.
Without speech we lose our social sharpness.
Without even a voice to hear, what do we have? The other person(s) may as well be an automated bot.
With messaging, you could get cat fished and end up on a TV programme…or in the better version get cat fished and not end up on TV.
These aren’t beautiful hand written letters that are being sent out by the trillion each year.
They’re standard messages, digital and frequently impersonal, even if that’s not the intention.
The Weakness of Texting
Which goes back to the weak backbone of messaging, much like a sardines’: Miscommunication is far too easy to get good at the more texts are sent.
Some people have grown up barely knowing a phone call or real person-to- person communication. The meta communication of the face, vocal tone, pauses, emotion, the body: they all get lost. They’re not even a factor in a faceless message.
Sure texts can have a tonality, but again, are they going for sarcasm or are they just being an asshole?
Ultimately, texts are impersonal.
They’re very convenient and they are useful depending on the aim. I text (You can accuse me of hypocrisy at this point). A large percentage of the time. You know why? Because the majority of people I know hate talking on the phone.
Ironically, I talk to people relating to life coaching, networking and business related things far more than I do with friends (when not with them).
And the deadly farce of Covid sure as hell hasn’t helped.
Usually, I try to find an angle that’s positive or leave a solution of sorts. But long term, beyond encouraging people to talk more I see people disappearing into their screens more and more like that scene in The Ring but in reverse.
People like to avoid blame, but I’m a firm believer in dropping the dead mouse at the feet of the people responsible. And while I wish it existed less, I love the squirming of people who deny reality.
Why are people so shit at communication? For any responsible adult that’s a personal issue to resolve and overcome if the willingness is there. The world can certainly be a better place when we can talk to each other with honesty, integrity and from a place of maturity instead of reaching into the stock responses cupboard.
And why is a generation or more being lost to screens?
Parents who don’t want to be held accountable. Shame on them. And every excuse they can provide.
*And people don’t even have to try and be funny or make their own jokes. There’s meme’s that do it for them or GIFs. While sending me a meme hints at a sense of humour from the other side, they could be a sociopath who’ve learnt to act funny…