Ill Communication

I once dated a woman who’s sole form of communicating with me was by text message. Except for the day we met, everything we couldn’t do in the same room was done by text. Exchanging personal information…scheduling dates…planning encounters…everything. We had 1 telephone conversation over the 2 months we saw each other and when it ended, that was one of my main reasons for doing so. I know some men reading this probably think I’m crazy for finding a woman who doesn’t want to talk on the phone all the time and not feeling that. While it’s true that I’m not a fan of talking on the phone for hours at a time, I do crave human interaction that doesn’t require a computer or a smartphone.

We live in the most socially connected age in human history but people are connecting less on a personal level. Consider this: out of all your friends on social media, how many do you actually know? Out of those you know personally, when was the last time you actually saw them and when you saw them, did you really talk, or did you sit around looking at your phones? I’ve been to far too many social events where people either talk nonstop about themselves or are almost monosyllabic in verbal exchanges.

Remember the movie Clueless? There’s a scene where Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash’s characters are talking to each other on cellphones even though they’re right next to each other. It seemed absurd at the time but now that’s normal. I think it’s important to look at a person when you talk to them. The inflection in their voice, their facial expressions, and tone of voice inform a conversation more than what you say to each other and can avoid the misunderstandings that often occur with electronic communication.

When you limit the means of expressing thought, you limit thought, which might be why ย so many people can only speak in half-sentences and type lyk dis. Factor in short attention spans, and the belief that every moment of life must be documented and you have a recipe for self-absorption that ignores everything except the ego.

The danger of social networking is it gives the illusion of having a personal relationship without actually having one or making any effort to sustain one. For any truly intimate relationship to work you have to be present, physically and mentally. You have to go out in public and meet people. And not stare at your phone when you do.

People are busy. Being a busy person myself, I totally get that. But it’s also true that people make time for the things and the people they want to make time for. The internet is a wonderful tool for connecting people but it can’t be the only one. Social media is here to stay; I just wish it was more social. If anybody has any ideas how to make that happen, give me a call; I’d love to discuss it over coffee somewhere.

Or you can text me.

On second thought… shoot me an email, and I’ll get back to you in a couple of days.

Or by the end of the week.

Next Monday at the latest, I promise.

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Author: Torraine Walker

I'm a writer based in Atlanta, GA.

14 thoughts on “Ill Communication”

  1. Fair point I think, especially amongst the young! The Technology these days is phenomenal! But use social media to arrange meet ups, not as the singular way to communicate! Then it becomes isolation! Say us using a social media site to discuss LOL๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜ŠGood when boredom strikes though ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ‘

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    1. I’m aware of the irony of a social media critique going out in social media, but I think it’s obviously a great tool if used as a platform to exchange ideas, like I’m trying to do here.

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  2. Another very important issue with regard to social media and how it manifests in relationships; or in POTENTIAL relationships is online dating. As many single women will attest, online dating is a mine field of people who feel free to say any horrible and degrading thing that surfaces in their reptilian brain; without consequence. These and all social media platforms provide an aire of essential anonymity and no recourse. Holding a smartphone and insulting a woman on the other side of cyberville is easy and apparently a way for misogynists or simply I’ll mannered players to be aggressive free agents. This is why accounts like BYEFELIPE and TINDERNIGHTMARES on Instagram have a million followers, plus.

    Social media has become nearly a necessary evil. I’m saddened by the increasing loss of boots on the ground communication skills and manners due to lack of home training and social media.

    I still choose to look someone in the eyes so I can feel and see not just what they are saying, but what they mean.

    Alas, I agree with you Mr. Walker; it’s here to stay.

    How do we reintroduce humanity into cyberspace? Or is that an oxymoron?

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      1. E-thugs!! They say things in relative anonymity that they’d never have the stones to say to someone’s face.

        However, there are love stories that arise as a result of online connections. I know, it happened for me. However it takes getting offline and maintaining face to face connections to make it work and to be honest. I have met people who are NOTHING like who they present themselves to be, in person.

        In conclusion, the GOLDEN RULE that my generation was raised with needs to remain in the forefront of ALL interactions. Perhaps these younger generations have no idea what the GOLDEN RULE is.

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    1. Did you see the movie “Her”? Joaquin Phoenix played the lead male role who, like many others, was in a relationship with an Intelligent Operating Systems. Is that the next place we’re going to end up? Will we loose all our ability to connect face to face and settle for a cyber partner?

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        1. Touche’! I believe these platforms play a role in sharing ideas, learning and connecting. The problem arises when it becomes the only way we connect and communicate. See the movie and how they address the issue of sex within a cyber relationship.

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  3. I just took a week off from social networking for that very reason. If my friends have something important to tell me they can phone me. I also find it limits the negative thinking I see which improves my over all mood.

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