Phyllis Wilson explores how texting can help us communicate better — and how it sometimes creates arguments filled with ANGER and #@$%?!. How can we communicate better in a text-based world?
The last time you got into, or sat on the sidelines of, an argument online with someone who thought they knew all there was to know about health care reform, climate change, sex education, the drug war, or whether or not Weiner should have resigned – how did it go? Probably not too great. I recently had an online argument with my daughter about her dog who chewed up my new dress.
I came home to find my suitcase open and the black and white dress scattered throughout the room in pieces. I scanned the room and who was sitting and looking at me with his huge green puppy eyes. Her dog, Jake.
Mind you, Jake is not a puppy. He is three years old, which makes him 21 in dog years — and Jake is a 76 lb. yellow Labrador, who still thinks chewing is acceptable.
I texted my daughter to explain the situation, and to my surprise she said he couldn’t have done it. I was taken aback by her comment and asked, “Then who could have done it?” She said, “I don’t know.” We went back and forth about who was right and who was wrong. Eventually she conceded and said she would pay for the dress. When she came home the tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. She threw the $80 on the table and said, “There’s your money.”
I think text messaging has changed the way we communicate; however, that change has not always been for the better. I began to consider how online battles follow a similar pattern, each side launching attacks and pulling evidence from anywhere to back up their positions until, out of frustration, one party resorts to an all-out poisonous strike. Most arguments are reinforced with CAPITAL letters and texting abbreviations and symbols.
Another problem with some text messages is that you can’t tell if the person you have sent the message to has actually read what you have sent. Maybe the person you sent your text message to is busy and cannot read their texts, or maybe they have left their cell phone at home and so are not even aware that they have a message from you. Many an argument has been started over someone supposedly ignoring someone else’s text message when they weren’t even aware they had a message in the first place.
We know that text messaging in general is a great thing: it allows people to communicate at times where they may not be able to make a call. However, we need to be careful that text messaging does not replace actual conversation. So next time you want to text a friend to find out how they are doing, or to tell them the dog ate your homework, try calling them instead and you will no doubt have a better conversation than you would have with a few text messages.
In the case of my daughter and me, I think neither of us could not tell the tone of the text messages. (Many an argument has been started by someone taking offense to a text message that the sender had not intended to be offensive.) Granted she was at work and a phone call would not have been appropriate, and I wanted to solve the situation quickly. The solution may have been for me to wait until I could call or even meet face to face with my daughter.
BTW, “l8r” that evening my daughter texted me “143” which means I love you.