Communication v. Technology

I’ve found lately that technology often facilitates poor communication. Text messages are great for small talk and general chatting, but not for a real adult conversation. Neither are instant messages. Email is great for short messages that don’t need a lot of discussion, or for sharing files and links, and certainly if you need to reach multiple people and ensure a consistent message. But it can’t be used instead of sitting down and talking with people.

If you’re not actually able to confront someone about a situation in person (as is sometimes the case with me), it may seem acceptable to send that person an email or a text message. But all too often we use text and instant messages in place of phone calls, and emails instead of meetings. And all too often, the situation is not properly resolved, with neither party satisfied with the outcome. I think this is because some part of the message is lost in the medium. Certainly, the tone of a written exchange is lost and often taken more negatively or aggressively than was intended. I think that because of the short time involved in the process, it is easier to reach a conclusion before being completely clear about the facts, needs or desires.

To borrow a popular phrase, “The medium is the message.” If you use an impersonal medium, you send an impersonal message. If the medium can’t command my full attention, then the neither does the message. If you have an important message for me, make it important to me by using an appropriate medium.

I obviously use this blog to communicate ideas that I’m not discussing with anyone in person and I admit that’s hypocritical. And maybe I’m only rationalizing it by saying that this blog is mostly for me to share with the world and the world can take from it what it wants. I also admit that often I’m taking the easy way out. This blog is sometimes a passive-aggressive jab at people I don’t expect to read it, and a way for me to express my opinion with people who mostly agree with me. I don’t intend for anything to be taken personally, even if the inspiration is personal, and obviously personal to those involved. This is mostly just me and my bullshit. So lately, I’ve been trying to be an adult and confront situations that need confronting, calling people rather than messaging, and visiting people rather than emailing.

I guess what I’m advocating here is to handle personal situations in a personal way, and not resort to impersonal ways of handling difficult situations. I know I’m not fantastic at it myself, but I’m working on it. And if I haven’t handled a situation properly with you, I hope you can forgive me and confront me in a personal way, so that we can resolve the situation as completely as possible—which may not be as completely as either of us would like.

I’m trying to be mindful of you, with the hope that you will be mindful of me. Most of all I’m trying to be gracious with thanks I receive. You’re very welcome. And thank people who need thanking—that’s you. Thank you for your support.