How Txting is Kllng Our Communication Skillz
I am that parent that held out for a short time against my kids having cell phones with texting plans. The reason was relatively simple: I saw how ridiculous it is often used.
When one of my sons went on an all-day, middle school field trip, my wife and others conspired against me to make me a chaperone. While on the bus, I watched as kids would text to one another even though they were close enough to speak. In fact, one girl received a text, laughed at it, held up her phone to a girl two rows away, and then said, “That’s funny.”
I eventually moved out of ogre-mode as a parent and got text messaging plans for my two sons. Now, with regularity, one of my boys will send over 3,500 messages per month. Over 100 per day?!? Thank goodness I paid for the unlimited plan.
Perhaps my title is an overstatement but we do need to recognize how the phenomenon of text messaging is changing and will change the way we communicate.
1. Spelling is outdated
2. Grammatical rules are unnecessary
Allow me to address numbers one and two together. We must recognize that language changes. It develops and degenerates. Texting is the natural progression of delivery methods for communication. It emphasizes the movement of an idea and ignores the rest. With the limitations of both characters that can be digitally transmitted and the potential for tired thumbs, less is more. Fewer letters, ignoring grammar rules, and the removal of punctuation is the norm. Texting is creating a new dialect.
3. Speed of thought
The point of texting is to speed up communication. We are moving at the speed of thought and I’m just waiting for someone to implant a chip in my brain. The downside is that it eliminates the opportunity to think through a response. Since the point is instant access and a quick response time, there is little time to process an idea. It is not just a change in how we communicate but also in how we think.
4. Removes emotional filters
Similar to any type of non-personal communication, texting allows us to state something in type that we would not say in person. The temptation to remove any emotional filter began with email. It is now prevalent in texting. You simply cannot communicate tone in the same way in print as you can with speech. So, it allows for more passive-aggressive communication. As long as you attach a smiley-face emoticon, then everyone is simply supposed to forgive or laugh off what you stated.
5. Moving us to visual communication
Petroglyphs are ancient picture carvings in rock walls. Hieroglyphs are an ancient Egyptian writing system using pictures and symbols. Texting is not so different. Texting is more of “sight words” and emoticons than anything else. (The very fact that “emoticon” is recognized by my computer’s spell checker is quite telling.) The sender and receiver do not need full words or even sentences. Single letters, acronyms, and images are replacing words. It is not uncommon for me to reply to one of my boys’ text request with a single letter: k.
Additionally, with the recent arrival of Instagram and Pinterest, the visual medium of communication may overtake the verbal form at any moment. At least when it comes to sunsets, the dinner one is eating, and engagement announcements.
Language is an ever-changing portion of a culture. It is not to be feared but it should be handled with some wisdom. Words, in whatever form they take, carry meanings. When the word form changes, likely, the meaning does as well.
We should proceed with caution. As for me, I love words. Especially, long and complicated words. It is a preference but not one to tout as superior. Rather, we should seek to retain that which is beautiful about language in its ancient, present, and future forms.