We need to talk are among the words men often dread the most when they are in a relationship. That single phrase from their partner can make them break out in a cold sweat.
However, my issue with this phrase does not concern men in particular but people in general. I am talking about the growing demise of the art of verbal communication and the rapid rise in texting.
I had the opportunity to briefly chat in person with a young 20-something the other day and asked her if she wanted to add her name to our email list to receive information about our nonprofit organization. Although she expressed interest in our cause, she said she didn’t “do” email. “I hardly every check it and I don’t do phone either. I just text. If anyone wants to reach me, they have to send a text.”
Although our encounter took only about a minute or two at most, she obviously was capable of verbalizing. She didn’t seem at a loss for words, although she did not make eye contact. I was tempted (but refrained) from asking her if she maintained all of her relationships via text and how that was working for her.
Really, we need to talk
I can text as well as the next person and I am a fast typist, but texting definitely is not my preferred mode of communication. For one thing, people leave out words—often critical words that completely change the meaning of the text. Messages also tend to be so brief and/or cryptic that it is necessary to send a series of messages back and forth in order to iron out any misunderstanding and miscommunication. We need to talk so we can better express our feelings and ideas.
All of this could be easily avoided if everyone just pushed one button on their phone and called their loved ones or friends and talked to them. Wow, what a concept. After all, these are phones, right?
Then there are those irritating acronyms and emoticons. They remind me of hieroglyphics. Have we regressed so far in our communication skills that we resort to silly faces and symbols?
I tend to agree with what some experts have to say about our fascination—dare I say obsession—with texting. Gary W. Small, MD, director at the David Geffen School of the University of California Los Angeles, pointed out in an article in the Daily Journalist that “People that over use text messages have a harder time communicating and talking,” and it also can have a negative effect on their creativity.
Lisa Merlo PhD in Psychiatry at the University of Florida also pointed out that some people use texting to avoid dealing with intimate interactions with others, especially when such interactions might be stressful. Thus texting can help people run away from life rather than face it head on. The act of texting “can create problems in relationships as well as functional activities of daily living,” she noted.
OMG. This is progress?
That brings me to the use of OMG, BTW, LOL, and hundreds of other social media shortcuts or acronyms. I understand their purpose, and occasionally they can be okay. I confess I have used OMG at least a few times over the years.
The use of acronyms makes it even worse. We lose that intimate connection, that need to touch someone, even if it is only with our voice. After all, the voice is a powerful tool that is capable of conveying incredible layers of emotion and meaning. LOL and OMG just don’t cut it. ILY (I love you) is okay in a pinch, but overall it’s about as romantic as getting a toaster for Valentine’s day from your boyfriend.
Texts have no volume (unless you use all caps, but that is ambiguous as well), inflections, cadence, or timbre. They lack warmth and body language. We need to talk.
It’s time to give your texting fingers some down time. Just send a text that says call me or I’ll call you. Better yet, meet in person once in a while if possible. Help bring back the art of verbal communication. Share it with someone you love.