Monday, November 28, 2011

Text Messages and Emails


I text with sentences made of words that can be found in the dictionary. I email with paragraphs. I like the written word; the old fashioned way of writing. I like it better than the new, abbreviated language that uses idk instead of I don’t know, and k instead of okay or ok.

However, I’m open to it – this new written language. In the scheme of things, it’s hardly on my list of worries. I’ve even succumbed to dropping a word or two; like when I say, Glad you’re fine, instead of, I’m glad you’re fine. Also, LOL (laugh out loud) and :) (a smile) have become staples in my correspondence. Hmmm…

What I do mind, though, is the possible lack of clarity and emotion in a text message or email. Misunderstandings, mix-ups, and mouth-dropping reactions due to those few words transmitted from one techy device to another, have happened to me, and probably to you, too. Sometimes the true meaning and intent is not conveyed and that’s a problem.

Once, my husband and I missed an opportunity to have dinner with another couple because I didn’t check my email a lot during that particular day, and I didn’t get the invitation. In the past, I’d told my new friend that emailing was the best way to reach me and she took it literally. She probably thought I didn’t like being burdened with answering my phone, so she didn’t call. Oops.

Another time, I cancelled an appointment because I assumed my husband was too busy to go. He’d emailed earlier saying he had meetings all day. His second email, a half hour later, said he was available for the appointment. Too late. Oops.

A texting faux pas happened when I missed seeing an old friend while visiting the city she lives in. I hadn’t seen her in eighteen years. We did exchange phone calls, but because of the long distance from our hotel to her home, my family’s touring plans, and her schedule – the meeting did not happen. Sooo… she sent me a text that lasted three or four screens, basically telling me how selfish I am; at least that’s the way I took it. Because it was a text, I don’t know if her tone was supposed to be sad or mad or something else. It felt a little biting to me and as a result of that text - I’m done with her. Big oops – hers… or maybe not an oops. Maybe that was her message to tell me that she was done with me.

...which reminds me: opening a text or an email can be risky. You think you're getting a pleasant or informative note, only to read something that can ruin your day.

I’ve noticed that people use texting and emailing as a way to avoid direct confrontation. They don’t want to see each other or to hear each other’s voices. They use short, abrupt messages to correspond. Is this taking the easy way out? What are the consequences?

We’ve come a long way from the one black phone in the house and the 5 cent stamp we used to mail our five page letter. Computers, cell phones, and social media allow quick access to anyone in the world. Are our brains wired to keep up with it all? Have our social skills suffered as a result?

What are your feelings about emailing, texting, and other social media?

PS. I'm not giving up texting or emailing. :)

Image from Microsoft Word clipart.

33 comments:

Judy Thomas said...

"Texting often" would mean I would need to actually carry around a cell phone, which I do not. The only time I text is when we are on vacation to communicate with the dog/house sitter. It is considered a faux pas (and cowardly) to use texting, e-mail or social media to avoid confrontation, like the infamous "face book break up." Ugh...

MissKris said...

Oh, buddy buddy. Now THIS is a topic. I share the love of the old phones and snail letters, too. But because of logistics and necessity, especially since moving 2/3 of the way across the country, my cell phone has found a permanent place in jeans or jacket pockets. Since our little core family is so dependent upon each other right now I actually have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone instead of a strictly hate relationship, ha! And I have learned to text tho the only people I text with are Hubby, son, daughter and daughter-in-law. Actually, I prefer texting over phone calls any day...I detest phones and especially cell phones because I'll think someone is done speaking only to have the echo of their last few words come while I'm trying to talk. Very intimidating to me. I dunno, Anita...I know all this techie stuff is here to stay so I do my best to adapt. But I sure don't have to LOVE it...and I don't.

Hilary said...

No cell phone so no texting for me but I rely heavily on email as a means to communicate.. sometimes instead of the phone. I think we've all had those misunderstandings that the written word can create. That's why the emoticons do tend to help express intent, when a facial expression is not available.

Mari said...

I am not a texter, mainly because my cell phone is rarely on. I tend to use it only to call out. I use e-mail a lot though, and also Facebook. I'm also pretty quick to pick up the phone and just call!
I agree with you about the misunderstanding that can happen with e-mails. It can be easy to misread what the person is saying.

"Abby" said...

I wonder about this too. If texting and e-mail came first, before actual calling, would we call each other more often? Since it's so much more "real"?

But I think you're definitel right about how "people use texting and emailing as a way to avoid direct confrontation". Using 4 text screens is easier than real time talking to dump somebody.

I mainly text my kids - "time to come home", "Where are you?", stuff like that. My parents prefer that I write them letters, so I still do that, but it feels like pony express!

Tabor said...

You are so correct in this post. You have clearly shown all the deficits with this type of communication. It is necessary...but not the best way to communicate. If it is important...pick up the damn phone or drive on over. email does make it easy for cowards...and those of us who do not see ourselves as cowards. Here is hoping we adapt, because this is not going away.

Farila said...

You are airing the thoughts of many people, I mean the people who are changing slowly. It was tough for me earlier but now I am getting adapted to the situation though I prefer to talk in full sentences and avoid spelling mistakes when I write... How long though?

Connie in Japan said...

I've thought about this many times myself. Before we moved to Japan we lived with (former) friends for 3 months. In a nutshell-living together with people we thought we knew was stressful to say the least-when true colors came through. I tried to straighten things out by speaking -face to face-but received "email" answers later on to my concerns....and we lived in the same house! Things got ugly because I think people tend to say things in email they would not say face forgetting that there is actually a person on the other end who will read the message. That's why they are our "former" friends. I would have preferred the face to face-but they refused-hid behind "email". Yeah...I prefer the old fashioned way of communication. I also refuse to text. Anyone that texts me will get a call in return!

Monalisa said...

Now this is something to be thought about. I use pretty much short forms sometimes in text messages, and find it particularly useful when the text goes just a little out of a page. So cut it down and make it a page, so cost effective (thats how they charge here for texts). Anyhow I've never experienced misunderstanding on leaving text messages or emails, so much as I can remember.

But oh, I've never tried leaving messages for an invitation or appointment. I would certainly make a call. In fact when I once tried inviting through messages for my wedding, I soon realized it can't be that way somehow, or some very ineffective way of inviting, and had to call each and everyone of them.

And as such, you can't be sure who's regular and who's not on checking on texts and emails and who can miss.

As about me, if someone does invite me through mail or texts and I find it late, I call back making ammendments. And if I find it in right time, I do a call back and talk more of it, if they don't.

Calling is the best option I think.

Best Regards.

Joanne said...

I like emailing, and never write snail mail letters now. I think part of the appeal is how convenient it is to send an email. And the ease of it. No running out for stamps or envelopes, no leaving voicemails waiting for a call-back. Just type and send and move on to the rest of my day :)

Hilary said...

I text. I email. I call as an absolute last resort :) My cell phone doubles as my house phone, so it rings not only on social things, but household things as well. Sometimes, I just don't want to talk. I do like writing (obviously), and really enjoy composing a hand written note. I hope that the recipient is as enthused to get it as I am to send it. I text with my friends and close family. I email with colleagues or people I don't know very well. I call my parents and my grandmother. I think you tailor your interaction with the recipient and/or your familiarity with them.

Alena: Oh, It's Just Perfect! said...

Texting and email are definitely a way of life for me. We don't even have a house phone--just our cell phones. Plus, I work in the IT field, so I'm connected 24/7; however, nothing beats a letter in the mail. I adore sending them and receiving them. Hope you are having a great week Anita!

Stasha said...

I like a written word. To be honest the only communication I dislike is talking on the phone. I just find it to be an enormous burden and time suck. I will buy you a cuppa coffee and chat for hours in person or text and email, but I refuse to talk on the phone unless it is my grandma...
Interesting topic. I am in my early thirties and a real gadget girl but I find myself googling these ROTFL thigybobs... No idea how these kids keep track.

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

You are so right. Many times I've been left scratching my head trying to decide the intent of an email or text. Tone is huge in conversation. Anything written, we are left to put the tone to it. And that can be a bad thing. It's happened to me both receiving and sending. I do feel this age of social media has affected our youth. My own kids would rather text me than call. We hear tap, tap, tap everywhere we go. If we would let them, they'd do it at the dinner table. I can't imagine the arthritis that will be in their fingers in years to come!

SassyModernMom said...

I am a worrier. For this very reason texting, blackberry messenger and all types of short e-mails are a problem for me! It is so hard to GUESS the tone in those messages and when you are a worrier all of these texts can be understood in numerous ways. That being said, a sweet text from my Hubby between meetings telling me he loves me. Sigh. Nothing better:) (smile) Ha! I'm an addict.

SassyModernMom said...

Oh I got so caught up in my answer I forgot to tell you! The answer to the question on my blog: The worm salsa. That was the only tale! Sadly I did shock the heck out of myself getting out of a hot tub. Quailty blonde moment!

Rebecca S. said...

My thoughts on this issue are: all social rules that apply to face to face communication should apply to texting, emailing, facebooking, etc. Unfortunately, it seems that there is a large percentage of people who disagree. The hiding behind the screen seems to give license to many people to say nasty things to a person that they wouldn't have the cohonas to say to their face.
On the other hand...I use email and facebook to communicate with almost all of my extended family, except my mother-in-law, who insists we call and write regular letters. We try, but we fail often to keep up the kind of old-fashioned correspondence she would like. I have to make a real effort to write her a letter, which is sad isn't it?

Munir said...

Texting is cool, but is very expensive. Also you cannot show your real emotions.

Buckeroomama said...

I'm not a big "texter." I find it a chore. As it is, I sometimes forget my phone (a lot more often than is practical!) and often miss text messages. I'm a fan of email, though, but like you, I'm not big on the abbreviated versions of words that are used these days. I still prefer properly spelling the words out.

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

My grown children have taught me that to hear from folks of a certain age daily, you only need to text. They prefer it to phoning. Go figure.

I still don't have the need to be in such close communication with humanity that I keep my droid on me or even answer my phone when I'm next to it and it rings.

We live in a world where we have to stay plugged in to a certain extent. All this instant, computer, impersonal communication is our present and future....but I will drag my heels. :)

Nezzy said...

We have one cell that my Hubs carries. Yep, folks I go the the store and shop, uninterrupted. I share lunch with a friend without breakin' our conversation to answer my phone or check my messages.

Is it all makin' life easier or more stressful??? Just askin'....

God bless ya and have a glorious day!!! :o)

Crystal Mary said...

You know it makes you think. With this hurried world we live in, it won't be long before there are no more postman delivering letters? I am sure the email has cut out many letter writers. And phone messages...well, they are handy, yet if you are like me and switch your phone off at night and then forget to put it back on in the morning, you will always loose your messages.
Now in the old old days, it was pigeons, I bet they thought this could never be improved on.. lol

Arlee Bird said...

You make several good points. The ability for instantaneous communication can be helpful, but sometimes it doesn't allow for enough thinking time. And other times it requires too much thought.

More than once have I had to take time to look up some text speak term to see what it means and often I have to look it up more than once because I forgot what it meant. That's imho -- don't know how many times I looked that up before it registered in my mind.


Lee
Linda Hoye reflects on adoption and writing a memoir at
Wrote By Rote

Julie Magers Soulen said...

I'm totally on board with the new tech. Language included. Oops. That's not a complete sentence! lol (You can see I'm used to cryptic texts and emails. ;) Language is a living thing. If we were to hear a person speaking in old English from just a few centuries ago we wouldn't understand what the heck they were saying. It definitely is trickier to know what the emotions are behind the words. Hence the handy little emoticans :D ;) teehee

Cheers!
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Sohailah said...

I have to say, I agree with all of that. I do like the convenience and the "instant-ness" of it, but I am a letter writer, and my friends sometimes tease me that I write text messages using complete sentences.

Also - I hav experienced opening an email or text and being slammed...

Hilary said...

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Anita.

Jen said...

I've developed a love-hate relationship with text messages. They are great for quick "I'm on my way" messages, but I don't appreciate when people substitute them for actual conversations. If it's (or I'm) important PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE!!!

But please not while you're driving.

Midlife Mom said...

Great post my friend! I don't text very often because I don't like it and it takes me forever as I don't know the new lingo. One day I walked into church and someone asked me if I had brought the costume she wanted as I am in charge of all the costuming. I looked at her like she had two heads, I didn't know what she was talking about. She said, "I left you a message on Facebook!" I check FB about once every six months so that really isn't a good way to contact me! ha! I think cell phones are good to have in case of emergency and such but I think young people are on them WAY too much. It has become an addiction to be either talking on their cell phone or texting. I'm glad they are outlawing it when driving, I can't imagine texting while driving, very dangerous. Great post, thought provoking, there are good and bad things about it but yes I think it is way overdone. :o)

beth said...

I enjoyed your post. I am a fan of Lisa Genova and was reading her blog and I saw your comment which led me here (and now you know the REST of the story!). Back to your post.....it is my fear that we will have a generation of those who have difficulty verbalizing. My own daughter will TEXT to see if a friend can come over, rather than picking up the phone. I don't get it. I told her I am not planning her social life (which is basically nonexistent) and it is just plain sad. If the phone rings, she will not answer it. What happened to the days when one would race for the phone? I even heard the story of a friend who drove her son to pick up a girl for a date to the movies and instead of getting out of the car, he texted her to come out. That is a huge problem. I'm working on this.

beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita said...

Thank you, Beth, for tracking me down via Google (or another source) in order to read my blog.

I recognize all of what you've said in your comment. I don't know whether to laugh or to shake my head from side to side.
Sometimes, I've had to insist and warn my kids to CALL instead of texting. There are situations that require an immediate response and they don't always "get that." :)

Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts. Come back soon.

Just Two Chicks said...

Like you I use full words when texting, emailing, and updating my FB status. ;) Though I do like "LOL." My son does too, and my daughter makes fun of him. Oh well.

I agree that the meaning of some things can get mixed up, and obscured, as I've misunderstood the "tone" of texts or emails many times. If I don't get exclamation points and smiley faces, I think people are mad at me. I know, I know... nuts.

I once used used emails to communicate my frustrations, because I've always had a problem verbally expressing myself. I figure if I'm writing it out, I can express it accurately and kindly. :)

I don't do that as much now...

Morgan said...

Texts and e-mail do make it hard to interpret someone's true tone and intention. My biggest pet peeve is leaving pronouns out. Such as the example you used- "glad you're fine" instead of "I'M glad you're fine". I've noticed that this is the way people talk and write now as well. "love you" isn't as powerful to me as "I love you".