We’re nearly a year into a pandemic that has compelled us to interact with our friends, family, coworkers, and strangers via the internet. We type our words across social media, instant messaging, email, and other online platforms. We’ve become so accustomed to it; it doesn’t occur to us to call our friends any longer. We shoot off a text and wait for an answer, which at times comes hours or days later if it all.
Sometimes I will post what I believe are insightful thoughts on a current event, local problem, or social justice issue. I will read it repeatedly to make sure it’s perfect, and then I hit post! When someone responds, I get a notification! I follow the link to read their remark and discover along the way there is a typo in my original post. Argggg! I read it, and yet, there is that word, a completely wrong word, but I saw what I wanted it to say, not what was written. I feel like this phenomenon is increasing, not only in my posts but those of the internet in general, both personal and professional. Our lives and interactions are predominantly via the written word. We’re so overwhelmed and inundated with it; we don’t see the errors anymore.
Case in point: Lawsuits filed by the then President of the United States of America’s lawyers.
In our fast-paced, electronic-only communication, we lack attention to detail. We’re trying to get things done as quickly as possible to meet some ever shrinking deadline. Technology has not simplified our lives. Indeed, it has forced us all to work longer and harder as those in power try to squeeze as much blood from us as possible.
And yet, there is another problem I find with this type of communication; we miss intent. We miss facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, or merely a voice in general. We often assume slights or insults that never even occurred to the person we’re corresponding with. We take information out of context; we shorten it down to sound bites in the fruitless attempt to do more with less. We’re adrift in a sea of characters on a screen.
We’ve lost the enchantment of having an actual conversation. Reading a text isn’t the same as hearing a voice. The cadence of the spoken word, the pauses, the inflection, that soft whisper that makes your heart skip a beat when speaking to someone you care about. I don’t want to read a text. I want to hear your voice. I want a back and forth conversation, a sharing of thoughts and ideas. I want to be captivated by the words you say. I want to hear the smile in your voice. And none of these things are happening anymore. The magic is fading, and we’ve replaced it with an imaginary efficiency. I, for one, dream of hearing that captivating voice in my ear once again. Because text, text was never meant to replace human connection. I hope someday I will be seduced by a fascinating conversation with a husky voice again. Until then, try not to assume texts come with nefarious intent.