Talk vs Text: The art of conversation

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A man checks his mobile phone. Reuters

Talking on the phone used to be the means of communication for most people, but over the last 20 years texting or instant messaging has developed into one of the most popular ways of keeping in touch with friends and family.

Losing the art of conversation

Let’s face it; with the rise in recent technology we seem to be rapidly losing the art of conversation. How many times have you seen people out eating dinner or having drinks and everyone is on their phone? No one is talking to each other. Whether they are surfing Facebook or texting, they are simply not talking. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-texting but there is a time and a place.

Are we also losing our ability to communicate?

Recent studies have shown that people are more likely to text than actually talk. Texting is great for quick short messages and meaningless banter. I, for one, am guilty of texting to arrange to meet up with people and finalising plans. There are, however, situations where texting is not an acceptable means of communication.

Deep and meaningful conversation

For some people texting has become a way of life. But it is very difficult to have a deep and meaningful text conversation. The first and most important reason is that you cannot hear the intonation (tone of voice) when someone is texting you.
I could send the same message to four people and they would probably all see an entirely different meanings. You cannot hear if someone is annoyed, happy or sad and this can result in confusion.

Eye contact and body language are very important facets of face-to-face communication. We all know good communication is essential to relationships, so why is texting replacing talking?

Is texting the easy way out?

For some people it has become the easy way out of situations. If someone is afraid of the reaction they will receive, they may be more inclined to send a text as a buffer zone to protect themselves. Texting distances people from hurt and guilt in situations and can be a very manipulative tool to cause harm from
a distance.

The guessing game

The other problem with texting is guessing what the actual meaning is when you have been sent a text. Some messaging involving emoticons is even more confusing: ‘What did they mean?’ ‘Are they angry or upset?’

Misconstruing meanings

I am sure many of you have seen situations where texting has gone wrong due to predictive text taking over. While we may able to joke about it later, there are times when it is just embarrassing to have sent that one message.

Some developmental psychologists worry about the impact this is having on our younger generations who are still forming their personalities as they feel texting is delaying interpersonal skills. This is because having conversations teaches developing minds to think in reason and self-reflect on situations.

Whatever is happening in your world, put that mobile phone down and talk to someone before you forget how.

Karen Owens, R.N.

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