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Texting: A brilliant way to miscommunicate how you feel!

Despite of being an ardent user of technology and social media, I was compelled to reflect upon its impact on my life after reading the following quote: “Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate how you feel, and misinterpret what other people mean.”

Have you ever escaped phone calls by simply conversing over a few texts? Have you ever avoided meeting people personally by simply making a 10 minute phone call? Whether we admit it or not, we all have done this several times. And for this, we often express gratitude to technological advancements apart from patting our own backs for being time and cost effective individuals. Do we, at all, realize what we are losing on? With the maximum time and space in our lives being engulfed by technology, we seem to have clearly lost the personal touch that is representative of our human spirit.

Texting, emails, voice calls, video calls etc. have replaced personal face to face interactions. Moving a step further on the current trajectory of trends, written form of communication which is, predominantly, texting using various apps has further replaced even the verbal means of distant communication like phone calls and video calls. Texting is appropriate for passing information but when it comes to communicating the sentiments involved in a conversation, it is highly impersonal. We have become a society that not only avoid meeting people personally but at times also avoid phone calls. Surprisingly, this trend is not only with acquaintances and friends but also with our partners. It is almost disturbing to see couples break up, hook up and patch up over text messages.

Phone calls and video calls are way more personal than texting, as we can hear the voice of the other person. Hearing a voice is much more than hearing words – it is a beautiful human experience as we listen to the other person’s feelings, emotions, moods, reactions, etc. Replacing phone calls and personal meetings with texting not only results in skewed interpretations of intended meanings but it also limits us in our self-constructed world of individualism and isolation. The question which arises is that why do we run away from indulging in personal experiences with other people, be it meeting them face to face or listening to them over phone?

As a part of the hi-tech culture, we prefer to live in glass walls (read ‘screens’) that gives a beautiful illusion of transparency but are, in fact, opaque. The image appearing on the glass wall is often very different from the one that falls behind the “screen”. In the context of texting, there are no non-verbal cues to decipher the person’s moods and feelings thus giving way to easy manipulations in the conversation. People often use emoticons to convey their moods and emotions, which can be totally misleading. Social media and texting apps add to our distorted sense of self-worth. We can safely manipulate the other person in believing what we want to project.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we are living in splits where our private and public ‘self’ are quite distinct. In a variety of ways and platforms, we tend to socially conform by projecting ourselves in ways that will gain appreciation and approval from others. Demonstration of our ‘self’ as happy and successful individuals on the social media is inappropriately been associated with our levels of self-worth. Number of ‘likes’ on our pictures on FB, instagram etc. has become an indicator of our social status and desirability. Ironically, in spite of putting our friendships, relationships and private lives on display; most of us feel lonely and complain of having no ‘real’ friends. It is simply because creating a virtual self-image engulfs maximum time and space in our lives, as a result of which we lose the personal touch that is representative of our human spirit.

With a humble acknowledgement of the plethora of advantages that the communication technology offers, there still exists a strong need to realize the psychological cost that it is incurring over our ‘self’ and relationships.

To maintain a neat balance, one can follow these simple steps:

• Spend at least 30 minutes per day to go out and meet “real” people

• Replace texting with phone calls and video calls

• Emphasize on face to face interactions

• Avoid using phones and other gadgets while spending time with loved ones

• Appreciate your real ‘self’ more than your virtually created self


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