Have you noticed the types of conversations you’re having with your spouse, your kids, your friends, and even your coworkers and boss? I bet those conversations sure have changed. OMG! More and more people, myself included, use texting or emailing rather than speaking by phone. We have had to learn a whole new language to keep up with this new type of conversation. LOL!
I was uneasy the first time I started emailing. I was concerned about how the other person was going to “read” my message. Would they hear my tone and understand my sarcasm? When I was a consultant, I worked from home and needed to communicate what I was doing to my director. With a few tips, and a lot of gumption, I started to email on a regular basis. I even got brave enough to start downloading documents to the office. I quickly caught on and was enjoying the convenience of this new tool. Soon, friends were sending me messages. And so it all began, a new rhythm of getting our messages across, but talking had taken a new path.
Then, as I got good at emailing, I didn’t need to go to the office as often as I would have. It was then that I noticed I could “talk” to many people in a day and never even see them. But as a marriage and family therapist, I rely on reading body language to help me interpret what the other person is thinking and feeling, not just what they write. Emailing and texting have become a challenge of the times for readers of body language, like me.
Texting and emailing is fast. When I have a thought, I can text or email it immediately. It’s also convenient because I don’t have to wait for the “beep”. You can retrieve my message at your first available moment.
I must confess that I only started texting two summers ago. Yes, I admit I was scared of the phone that doubled as a typewriter; anyone remember that gadget? Well, my business was getting busier. I was coached by my preteen daughter to buy a new cell phone with text capability, making it easier for my clients and me to be in touch with each other. She also mentioned that I could be in constant contact with her, a big safety factor. I was sold!
So once again, my daughter and I found ourselves back at the mall when we stopped by a corner café to sit down and enjoy a flavored coffee. There were probably about 20 people quietly sitting around, while popular music was playing in the background. Some were sitting alongside a friend, all sipping their favorite drinks… with their cell phones in their hands!
I watched as my daughter pulled her cell phone from her pocket to answer a text, and I again looked around this café at the others seated, and they were all engaged in texting.
And there it was. I was bombarded with questions: Why aren’t we talking to the person who is sitting with us? Do all these messages require immediate attention, at the mall? Is texting still so novel that, like that new toy, we’ve just got to play with it? Are we afraid to interact? Is it because it’s convenient? Is it a sign of status? I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this phenomenon.
Here we are, at a nice meeting place, choosing to ignore those people sitting right in front of us. Choosing to communicate, instead, by texting someone who may be sitting somewhere else, perhaps in another café.
My daughter stopped texting and looked up from her phone. She took a sip of her drink. Calmly she held up her phone to me, and said with a sigh, “Seriously, Mom?” I blushed and put my phone on the table and raised my coffee cup. My text to her said, “I luv u. xoxox. mommy.” Her reply said, “me 2!”
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