Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Does the popularity of text instead of speech on a telephone imply a lack of verbal skills in general?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25786 points ) February 22nd, 2012

This question makes me wonder about the state of communication in general. A large number of the answers adamantly preferred text over voice on the telephone.

Do people who prefer text over voice communication have difficulties in face-to-face meetings?

I’m wondering about broader abilities, too, such as public speaking and interpersonal relations.

Or is it simply that a different medium of communication is arising and will require others to adapt?

Personally, I’m stumped by text messaging. I don’t have a smart phone, so it’s difficult to write a text on my older phone. My attitude is simply that if the person wishes to contact me, they should be willing to talk to me.

Is something being lost when we communicate via text as opposed to voice?

It’s my view that text is impersonal. I like the pleasantries exchanged at the beginning of a conversation. Text eliminates those little interactions. To me, text is almost like a mask.

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25 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

Texting is the easy way of communicating, but it is often not a very effective way of communicating.

It seems like it is very easy to send or receive a text message and read all sorts of things into it. Sometimes the wrong things. Hence all of the questions on Fluther regarding: What did he mean when he said this in a text, or even in real life. Because apparently people can’t figure out what people mean anymore, even when they’re being spoken to, because they’re only familiar with texting. And getting lots of texts gives the illusion of popularity. The more you get, the more popular you must be, even if you have no close friends : ( Hey but there are always hundreds of Facebook “friends” right?

Regular phone calls or (God forbid) actual face to face contact, means that the message giver and receiver have to know exactly why they are talking to each other in the first place. And it helps if they have some kind of real relationship rather than just a perceived relationship.

It also means that they must have some basic language skills and not rely on txpsk. Txspk has it’s place, but real language means so much more.

Real language, either through phone conversation or the real thing (face to face in person) is much more likely to give the other person the real information, or at least more information, because the receiver gets verbal cues and facial cues and verbal intonations and inflections which simply aren’t possible with just a text or even an e-mail, or even with Fluther, even though with Fluther, we have the added ability to add some depth and nuance with our writing.

With texting and e-mailing and instant messaging, there’s a lot more yakking going on, but nothing is really being said, and IMO, not much thought is going into what is being typed into cyberspace.

To me texting is the TV equivalent of silly reality shows, where as actual face to face conversation is more like Masterpiece Theater.

I don’t expect that most people will agree with me, but I also don’t expect to get any handwritten letters from anyone explaining why not.

downtide's avatar

I always hated the phone but that began long before the invention of texting. Mostly it’s down to a mild autism/aspergers and a complete inability to make random conversation or respond quickly and verbally in an appropriate way to a person I cannot see. I have no problem on the phone if I have something specific to say, then I say it short and sweet. But even in those circumstances text is preferable because I sometimes go blank when the phone is picked up, and I don’t know how to say what I need to say.

I much prefer face-to-face communication because I have much more time then, to say what I need to. I still find small-talk the most banal and irritating thing in the world though, whether in person or on the phone.

Texting is just one of the ways the world has evolved to make communication easier for me.

So… sorry Jake. If you were one of my offline friends, you’d only get texts from me (mostly of the “meet me at such-and-such a place at whatever time” sort). Of course I’d be happy ro receive a call from you to confirm or change plans… just don’t expect lengthy, chatty responses until I get there.

jerv's avatar

Unlike @downtide, I am a rather chatty Aspie who has no problem with small talk. Trust me, I have enough going through my head to get pretty fucking random! Also, texts take a bit of time to have a conversation. Sure, sending a single text may be quicker than a call, but what if there are questions, followups, or anything beyond a quick no-reply-needed statement? Accordingly, I find a quick phone call to be preferable. I would rather solve something simple in 30 seconds than in 3 minutes.

However, there are times when I need the precision of the written word and the time to edit. That is why e-mail exists. See, I have always been a better writer than a speaker, but not when restricted to 160 characters, and not in a timely manner. It might also be a picture-vs-word thing… While I find e-mail to allow for more detailed communication, I find it counter-productive at best for casual stuff.

As for texting, I have about the same thoughts on texting that I do about Twitter. If you don’t have anything useful to say, then STFU. If you want interaction then there are better ways to go about it. If you just want to fire off a quick, no-reply-expected message, then you are in the minority of texters.

partyrock's avatar

I don’t know, sometimes I think so. A lot of young kids text. I think we do it mostly to flirt and have fun with friends, it’s quick, and efficient.

I’m very good at writing, and speaking well, but I like to text a lot too. It’s been annoying though when you’d rather talk to people, and everyone is so used to texting, that talking becomes the STRANGE thing to do now….

I always talk on the phone with both my parents, and really really close best friends…. and anything that has to do with business/work/school/inquiring/ etc…

For everything else, like every day friend stuff, it’s always texting o_O

partyrock's avatar

And I agree about willing to talk to you. I’d rather much talk on the phone now.

partyrock's avatar

For very close people in my life, it’s always talk on the phone. That’s kind of how I know people are really important/close/meaningful to me, is when we talk a lot on the phone, instead of just randomly texting.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I always hated talking on the phone, always. I didn’t start texting until I was 18, so it’s not like I didn’t get a chance to try talking on the phone out. But talking on the phone is really awkward; you can’t see a person’s facial expressions or body gestures, so it makes it harder to sense certain things. And what do you do with the pauses? What do you do with the pauses?? It’s really not a good way for me to connect to people, and will often backfire.

Talking to people in person, I’m fine with. I have some social awkwardness/anxiety, but it’s really more of an issue with totally new people or big crowds; once I know you, I’m fine. I do try to actually hang out with people and see them face-to-face, but people have busy schedules, and it’s usually not possible to see them as much as I’d like to talk with them. So, texting, Twitter, email. (I also hate FB).

TL;DR? No.

My attitude is simply that if the person wishes to contact me, they should be willing to talk to me. What happens when the other person’s attitude is that if a person wishes to contact them, they should be willing to text them?

Aethelflaed's avatar

Lol forgot to add: texting doesn’t have the same communication problems phones do, with not knowing tone, because you make sure to add in emoticons and lols. Even more than that, if you aren’t sure of someone’s tone, it’s ok if you ask – they just assume it’s because of the medium, and not because you’re a socially awkward penguin.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I am going to sound old here, but I wish that there wasn’t such a thing as texting.

zensky's avatar

I love it. Because of my job, I can’t answer the phone much during the day – but I can text a quick yes or no now and then. It’s also like a mini-letter to my grown kids – and has opened a whole new avenue of communication with them. It’s not in place of spoken communication, it complements it – and is a useful tool as mentioned above. For me.

boxer3's avatar

i think that between social networking and facebook, alot of people have become dependent on non verbal communication and can portray themselves a bit differently over the internet or a text message. That being said. As far as texting goes, I think its really convenient to “shoot someone a text” just to let them know a quick fact . For example if you’re their ride and you’re outside you could text “here” or if you you visited your parents you could text “made it home safe!” I think texting has its pros and cons, and I text too much I think- however I also make it a point to verbally speak with people and see them in person. It’s important. I think texting is appropriate circumstantially.

bkcunningham's avatar

I have very good verbal communication skills and writing skills. I love to text. I text as a way to keep from being bored as a passenger in the car on trips. If I’m on the phone talking, my husband just sits there driving and being quiet. It seems rude.

If I’m texting, we can carry-on a conversation without interruption. I’m not one of those people who is constantly texting, but it is a new avenue of communication for me and one that I find extremely useful. It is direct and to the point in most cases. The one thing with my texting, I don’t like to use abbreviations and the text-speak or whatever it is called. I spell out my words 99 percent of the time.

My husband went to a storage locker auction yesterday. I received a text from him that said one word, “zip.” I texted him our zip code. My phone rang and he was laughing, “No. I didn’t need the zip code. I meant there wasn’t anything in the lockers worth buying.” Oh, well. So much for communicating by texts. Laugh out loud.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t understand the popularity of texting.

At least you can convey warmth and emotion with your voice.

jerv's avatar

@bkcunningham For some people, communication of any sort requires a bit more conscious effort, so carrying on two conversations at the same time just isn’t happening. Hell, I can’t type while my wife is talking to me, and I am notably un-talkative behind the wheel. I envy you for having that ability.

When it comes to abbreviations, I got so used to them in the Navy that I don’t usually consider them a sign of laziness, especially not when used in a format with a character limit. Also note that many of them originated before even I was born due to the limitations of computers of the day, especially their connection speed.

nikipedia's avatar

I think most people are perfectly capable of choosing the appropriate medium for the kind of communication they want. Texts are great if you just need to transmit or receive a specific piece of information: I’m running late; just thinking of you; can you bring home 3 tomatoes?

Also, how many times have you had this happen:

“What’s the name of the street?”
“J;lkajf;kj Street.”
“What????”
“A;LEJKR;LJKRE STREET”
“What are you saying!?!?”

1 text clears that mess right up.

downtide's avatar

@jerv one of the things I love about Aspies is how we’re all different.

jerv's avatar

@downtide That we are, sometimes more different from each other than from “normal” people.

linguaphile's avatar

I can’t use the phone, so voice-talking is not even an option for me.

Other than that, I’m always talking, chatting, on AIM, on BBM, on text, yakking in person, on my videophone. I don’t think my social skills are hampered in the least bit by my text use, but I’m a huge extrovert.

What I have noticed, I have to admit, is a difference in how many of the people around me problem-solve. I’ve already mentally divided people into groups based on how they problem-solve through technology. Some are total idiots online (especially on FB) and some can not even be talked to about problems through text or they become positively psycho!! I avoid dealing with problems with these people online or through text but insist on face-to-face contact. On the other hand, there are some people who really are easier to deal with through text.

jerv's avatar

@linguaphile In that case, it is not a preference for you, but rather, a necessity. I am pretty sure that the OP was referring to people who had full use of their ears and mouths who used text entirely by choice when this question was asked.

linguaphile's avatar

@jerv I agree, I am sure that’s who he meant the question for, but I also wanted to point out that not everyone had the option.

Ponderer983's avatar

I think it’s still early to really see the true effects of texting, but i believe it will begin to happen and become more prevalent. The same thing happened with spelling. Once spell-check was invented, people forgot how to spell. Same with calculators. We become dependent on the technology to think for us and we lose our own skills and astuteness. In reading your question again, I don’t believe it IMPLIES the lack of verbal skills, but over time, verbal skills will diminish.

Symbeline's avatar

I’m not sure texting has much at all to do with poor communication skills, such as texting currently is. Texting is a big every day normal thing in our lives now, and as I suspect, only adheres even more to our fast paced societies that require as much convenience as it can get. I understand from my question and yours, that it’s a big part of it. A fad for some. But we’ve always had fads that never really poisoned social and communication skills, unless taken too far. But I don’t think it’s ever really going to replace anything, not does it nurture bad communication or bad social skills. in fact, don’t all the cool people do it? XD
And if I use myself as an example, I never ever text, because you know, Symbeline don’t text. I prefer talking on the phone, but I’m not a big fan of it either. I’m socially awkward and shy, but it seems to be something natural in me, texting has nothing to do with that,—i have no friends—and I’d think the same if I did do it.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@jerv Yes. That is all of the reasons why the phone call must die.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think it has more to do with the advantages of asynchronous communication.

I’m often annoyed when people leave me voice mails that last for several minutes. Quickly scanning the text of a short SMS message makes work life a lot easier.

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