General Question

shrubbery's avatar

A lot of the most important conversations of my life so far have happened over text messaging. How do you feel about that?

Asked by shrubbery (10212points) May 13th, 2009

I’m 17, so that’s what, generation Y?

It’s not like I plan it, it just kind of happens. If the conversation starts getting deep it would just be inconvenient to stop and say “hold on, this has to wait until I can see you in person” because what with school and extra-curricular activities it’s quite hard to catch up with people on short notice, and you might not ever end up having the conversation after all.

Sometimes even when I plan to see the person, when we’re organising the meeting the topic gets brought up and just starts there.

Looking back, in a lot of ways I think this is a good thing, because I’m a little shy and if I had been with the person at the time I might not have said all the things I really wanted to say so at least there were no barriers. If I had rung the person, it wouldn’t have been quite as hard as being with them, but still harder than texting.

What do you think?
Would it make a difference to you if I said that I didn’t use abbreviated text speak, and prided myself on spelling and articulating myself properly?
Does this appall you?
Are you thinking that I’m missing out on something?
Do you think our society is becoming so technologically dependent that one day we will lose face to face contact?
Should I throw away my phone and harden up when talking to people?
Should I just not worry about it cause that’s how the world is now and it’s not my fault I’ve been brought up at this time in history?
What are your thoughts?

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20 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Texting isn’t true conversation, it is shorthand without emotion, inflection, it is impersonal. I am in my mid fifties and probably text more than most people in my age group, I use a BlackBerry for that specific reason – instant text and email. When I want a real conversation, I call. I might get major news via text, but I respond/discuss it on voice or video. I can’t imagine continuing an important conversation via text. And like you, I do not use txtspeak – it annoys the hell out of me. It screams “ill educated and immature”.

nikipedia's avatar

I love having important conversations over text. I love being able to really stop and think about what I want to say. I love having a record of it to look back on, especially when future events change the context of it. I love that my nerves don’t get the better of me.

I feel really strongly that change shouldn’t be frowned upon just because it’s different. We human beings have a tendency to oppose change and technology because it’s unfamiliar. Having important conversations over text is nontraditional, sure, but I see both costs and benefits to it.

Great question. You really made me think about this one. I’m looking forward to hearing other responses, especially from people who disagree.

PapaLeo's avatar

I don’t see a substantial difference between texting and other forms of written communication. And they all have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

But I’ll tell you this much, @Shrubbery, if you can successfully make the leap from written to verbal text, and dare to say the things you now text while looking into the eyes of your conversation partner, you will feel stronger, more eloquent, more intimate, have a stronger connection with your partner and, ultimately, the shyness you feel now will be a thing of the past. Speaking from personal experience.

Go ahead, try it. What’s the worst that could happen?

shrubbery's avatar

Thanks for your answers so far. Especially yours, niki, I definitely agree with you.
Just one more thing I forgot to say but it’s too late to edit now, I am in no way dependent on my mobile phone. I’ve gone without it while on holidays and a month long trip to South Africa, and forget to take it with me a lot of places when I got out. I keep it on me for convenience, and to keep my parents in the know of where I am and where I’m going and for people to contact me because I organise a few things around school etc. Texting my friends just becomes the easiest option because my phone is just there, so I might as well. If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be phased, but I suppose those important conversations might have happened over MSN or something like that instead, who knows.

Dog's avatar

I was actually thinking today about modern communication and the future.

My thoughts may seem outlandish to some but I will share them regardless.

The original Star Trek had an episode where creatures far more evolved than humans communicated via thought.

I think texting is one of the steps that will eventually evolve the human race to a new form of communication.

I can see a keyboard being replaced by brainwave patterns and chips recieving information worn perhaps like hearing aids.

So in answer to your question I think that you are using what is the basis for the standard of communication in the future and thus do not find it strange at all.

augustlan's avatar

My initial thought was ‘oh, how sad’. After reading your whole question, though, I’ve changed my mind. How wonderful that shy people today have this option… and the internet, too. In the past, some of those shy people (though probably not you, shrub) would have faded into the woodwork and never have any meaningful conversations at all. That said, I do agree with @PapaLeo. It is better to be able to say what you need/want to say in any situation, especially face-to-face.

Judi's avatar

It’s a whole new world. My parents didn’t understand rock and roll but it turned out to be a revolution in western music. I think it’s kind of cool that you have a record of your important conversations. Is there a way to download them any keep them if you change phones? Its also cool to have documentation of important conversations. Most fights come from misunderstanding. When you can go back and review a convereation you can clear up any misunderstading easially.
It’s a whole new world! as I text from my iPhone in the middle of the night

bythebay's avatar

I see no problem with it, as long as you are also developing your face to face conversational skills. Communication is all forms is vital, but nothing can compare to a real conversation where you touch, see & feel the other person and their emotions.

reverie's avatar

To answer your question, if it works for you, then that’s absolutely fine. If you don’t feel as though your interactions lacked anything, then they didn’t. No matter what anyone else says, you know what works for you, and what means something to you.

If I were in your shoes? I think I’d feel a bit flat and deflated about it, I think I would feel as though I had missed out on something. I’m not demonising text messaging or modern technology; I’m 23, and thus a bit young to hark back to any “good old days”. For me, the distinction isn’t between text messaging and in-person conversation – it’s between face-to-face and non-face-to-face communication. I’d feel the same whether we were referring to e-mails, instant messaging, phone calls, hand-written letters posted in the mail… basically, anything that necessitates another medium to carry my message (whether it’s paper, type, radio waves, etc.)

I know that words are just symbols, and that even by articulating thoughts, my words are, in essence, a translation of my original thought. However, I think that the more translations something goes through, the more far removed it gets from the original, and meaning can sometimes be lost. When this is combined with the stripped-down nature of indirect communication where the communicator is absent from the recipient, you lose even more cues – gesture, facial expression, eyes, breathing, posture… a lot of subtle things that can reveal a wealth of meaning, intentionally or not.

For me, there’s nothing quite like the immediacy of face-to-face communication. It can be undiluted, uncensored, not pre-meditated… and if the communicator is doing any of those things, you can tell. You can still take the time to think every word through as you would with a letter or text message, and in fact, I think silences and pauses enhance face-to-face conversation. Sure it can feel awkward sometimes, but you really feel the conception of every word from the person you are with, and I find that very significant.

In addition, for me, no record of events, photographic evidence, saved texts and e-mails, would persuade me to give that up. I find that sort of communication to so powerful that the memories it produces are salient enough to not need to be backed up.

Having said this, I reiterate back to what I first said – there’s no right or wrong answers here. It’s entirely a matter of personal feelings and preferences.

bezdomnaya's avatar

Props for not using txtspeak! I thought I was the only one who would take the time to punctuate and spell my texts correctly. What is the benefit of removing all of the vowels in words, anyway?

To answer the question, I agree with @nikipedia in that you have more time to think about what you’re saying and your nerves don’t get the better of you. One problem with text conversations that I find, though, is the lack of intonation and this is with all text conversations, not just the important ones. I am very sarcastic in real life, and this tends not to get across well when I’m not in the same room as someone. People have actually gotten offended at me before! So, now I tend to think about the way in which my text will be perceived by the other person more.

dynamicduo's avatar

Communication is communication. Don’t fret over what medium it takes form in. Delayed writing (IM, text messaging, even letter writing) has the advantage of letting you think over your words and carefully phrase a message, whereas verbal communication is spontaneous and, well, undiluted as @reverie says.

But wow, @shrubbery, that’s a long laundry list of questions in your description. The question I ask to you, is are you happy with the way it happens? Then that’s all you need! Who cares what I or anyone else think about your text messaging use?

Communication evolves. It will continue to evolve, probably to the point where we are able to communicate via a text message-like method (short bursts of communication), but controlled solely through our minds (and maybe fingers or twitches) using a projected computer that each of us can wear just like a ring or shoe. Or maybe using voice, little voice text messages, but without the time element of a traditional phone conversation.

The reason I bring this up is that your use of text messaging is likely a predecessor to the way we can communicate in the future. So who’s to say that the new communication is right or wrong? It has advantages and disadvantages like any other method. Throw away the phone? Never! Even if phones became hated by all for some unknown reason, as long as you were happy with it, fuck everyone else’s opinion. Their opinions have only as much power as you deem they do. Giving them a default power of zero makes life much easier. It’s not like they’re going to war against you for denying their opinions! :)

[ This was written before I had looked through any of the comments… now I see @Dog has described something similar in terms of future technology! Props to you, Dog! :) ]

Lupin's avatar

I rarely let a text or email conversation go past the second reply. I go to phone or use voice mail. So much information is carried in the pauses, stresses and inflection of voice. Oftentimes text is misunderstood. I can imagine cases among educated civil people, such as this group, where the true meaning is lost.
Here is an example: He is an idiot. He is an idiot. He is an idiot.
It’s the same text message but with three totally different meanings: accusatory, confirmation, and descriptive respectively. I believe some vindictive replies seen in other threads are the direct result of a reader stressing the incorrect word in an answer.
“Voice” adds another dimension to your communication. And “touch” adds yet another.

filmfann's avatar

It’s more important to ask how YOU feel about it.
If you feel you are missing important conversations, don’t text.

cookieman's avatar

The ability to communicate articulately and fearlessly is what’s important. The vehicle you use for that is secondary.

As others have stated, you should ultimately work at developing many different forms of communication.

As of right now, you sound very mature and thoughtful in the way you present yourself. Who can ask for more than that?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

the new technology of the latest generation. everyone texts now, it’s faster, and I think it allows people to say things that they’re too shy to say in person or over the phone, nothing wrong with that though.

wundayatta's avatar

My wife and I were talking about Twitter this morning, and then about all these new media that allow you to only say short things. We were wondering what people say, and how they have time to say it, and why they want to say it to so many people (in the case of Twitter or Facebook). I just asked a question a couple days ago about why so many young people have a phone to their ear all the time. Who do they talk to? What are they talking about?

In some ways, it seems like it’s the electronic expansion of the village. You used to meet everyone in the town square, and you might say hi, and the next thing you know you’re in an intense conversation. Cell phones allow this to happen amongst widely distributed people. You don’t have to meet physically.

Texting is to celling as handwritten letters are to town square meetings (in the flesh). They are asynchronous communication, allowing you time for reflection, and to figure out how to best say something, before you send it. It’s just that letters (or email, nowadays) is a bit more asynchronous that texting. Email doesn’t have to be much more asynchronous that text, now that there’s Blackberry and iPhone.

Ok. That was my analysis. I hadn’t planned to go there, but there I went.

What I really wanted to say—or to wonder—is whether this behavior changes when people get out of school and go to work. At work, no longer going to classes, and no longer with down time during the day, you may have responsibilities that allow you little time for texting. Texting may even be banned.

On the other hand, if you have a job with some autonomy, you might be texting a lot, or at least emailing. I don’t know. Supposedly, Gen X and Gen Y are changing the workplace. They are much less loyal to employers, supposedly. They value life time more, and want to have lives outside of work, unlike the Baby Boomers (again, supposedly). So maybe they have more time from work, and can communicate with friends more, even on work time.

I think that Gens X and Y may not be so different from Baby Boomers as they get older. The older you get, the more responsibility you have at work, and the more responsibility you have, the more you are tempted to work long hours in order to be good and to justify that trust your employer has in you.

When I was in my twenties, I just worked as little as I could in order to live and have fun. I went to grad school so I could make more money, and do work that was more sophisticated. But I still didn’t want to work that much. After grad school, I gradually became more and more involved in work, as it became more serious and important. However, I still wanted to have a life, since I, perhaps unlike many others of my generation, have many interests outside of work.

I have no problem with texting, and having important conversations that way. It’s just a tool. I don’t care what tool you use, so long as you get the job done. However, I do wonder if tools change as you get older.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@daloon you are the Lord and Master of Long responses.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Texting is a great medium for super busy or shy people and I agree with nikipedia about distilling down what you choose to send, searching for the most poignant words. For people not in face to face proximity, text is a bond they can tap into just about any time, it can be very precious. What I loathe is the abuse of text by those who send, “what’s up” or “hey” whenever they feel bored, it’s insulting.

wundayatta's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 LOL. You can see why Twitter is not for me!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’m 16 but i’m very wary of technology (though i’m kind of a hypocrite as i spend half my life on this goddamn machine). anywho, that being said, i don’t necessarily think it’s bad. i think that a lot of people feel like they can let their guard down a lot easier online. i do. being able to engage yourself in a deep conversation is never a negative thing, regardless of where it occurs. i’d prefer a deep conversation via text messages than a pointless surface-grazing one face to face.

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