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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life:What's the Context?

Daze of My Life
What's the Context?

As concerns the modern technology of communicating, "texting," I can't decide if I'm pro or con. Certainly I can appreciate - and have been party to - its benefits; the ability to communicate with another person/phone when speaking is not an alternative; while in a meeting, in a class, in a car (as a passenger), in a bind, etc. And there is something to be said for instant gratification, knowing that the message was sent and received in a timely manner. Moreover, as a salesperson, communicating with clients and/or prospects is the main component of my business and the more avenues available to me that enhance - and quite frankly define - these lines of communication, the happier and much-less frustrated I'll be.
That being acknowledged, however, there is no substitute for substance. And substance abuse, meaning miscommunication/misunderstanding increase when questions cannot be answered and answers cannot be questioned because there's no conversation because the parties to the "alleged" conversation are too busy hunting and pecking on their phone's keyboard rather than listening; they're focusing on their typing, not their thinking. And in spite of how texting-friendly cell phones have become to make the process seem almost like actual talking, almost doesn't count, except in horseshoes and hand grenades, as the old expression goes. And so too will communicating go if in-person or person-to-person is replaced by phone to phone.
There's more to communicating than simply words, in whole or in part, much more. There's tone, inflection, timbre. There's look, feel and gesture. And of course, there's context. In and of themselves, words are merely building blocks, essential but still inanimate, sort of. Without context, there's insufficient information to determine if, as an example, the end of the conversation is at all justified by the means used to try and get there. It's difficult enough to keep up your end of the conversation; processing, interpreting, evaluating, reacting, when the person/respondent is two feet in front of you or within earshot on the other end of a hand-held device. But not seeing and not actually hearing, because you're reading and writing (on your phone's touchscreen) seems much to do about something, too much to do and too difficult a way to do it. And it's already difficult enough to discern the true - and accurate - meaning of many of the conversations you do have when all the elements are in place and all the faculties are in use.
Disengaging, so to speak; disconnecting, if you will; some of the main processors used in understanding and relating to your fellow man/woman, has to increase the likelihood that words to the wise will not reach their intended target but rather will reach, unsuccessfully beyond their grasp and float digitally into cyber space, a sort of modern day dead letters office. Communications certainly well intentioned, but communications that, due to misinformation, never arrives at its intended destination/desired recipient.
Communication should not be about ease of transmission, it should be about however long it takes for a proper exchange to occur. Granted, typing/texting is obviously one way (and an increasingly popular way) to express oneself, and in many situations, the only practical way to do so. However, practical is not what matters most, understanding is.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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