Technology: the Death of Human Communication

Part of me, is squirming and severely opposed to writing this. Me. Facebook enthusiast, text junkie, Whatsapp experimenter…  I’ve been a passionate “insta-” addict since the cute little “UH OH” of ICQ, and now, here I sit, committing mutiny against my longtime companion.  But, it’s time. It’s time to discuss.  Our language, social skills, emotional maturity, and privacy is disappearing:  being connected is creating massive disconnection.

At the most basic level, our short forms, slang, acronyms and “emojis” are slowly making us next to illiterate.  There was a time when it was frowned upon to use such language in writing, and now, you’re the idiot if you can’t understand it. Punctuation has become somehow extinct, or at least considered highly unnecessary in most cases, which only leads to more challenge in the next level of problem:  misunderstanding of tone, meaning and intention.  An example at most simplistic level: recently I got a reply to a text where I had told someone I was upset.  The message, simply, said “Sorry.” I stared at my phone and found myself wondering… is that sincere? is is sarcastic?  But did I call and ask?  Hell no: what is this 1990? Seeking clarification by using a device to actually talk, now somehow has become weird…or at least less convenient.

Even before someone has the chance to “misread your tone” – another challenge is we have only our willpower to rely on to keep us from communicating in the heat of the moment.  Pre instant messaging, communication methods actually forced a brief time out from conversation or interaction.  Someone said something you didn’t like at dinner? Chances are, you had AT LEAST the drive home to percolate, if not a few days to cool off, think it through and approach things rationally.

Under the same situation today, (provided you heard anything that was said at dinner by putting your phone down), you have the freedom and convenience to unload your rage full force on anyone you want, before leaving the driveway!  Your new opponent can then respond with equal rage, and so on.  Easily pulled into a war, from which it then becomes difficult to “get out of the trenches” because not replying also somehow implies disrespect. During this time when judgment is compromised, some might also seek support by venting feelings in a public forum, where at least a fraction of your thousand closest friends will validate your tantrum and in some cases; lash out at each other regarding opinions.  Alternatively, you could post a vague, passive-aggressive status update, while gaining sympathy and also  awarding you the high potential of offending someone else, accidentally, and unknowingly.

All this… with the convenient option of “screenshot capability” wherein anyone is free to snap, prologue, edit, censor and share at their leisure so that any other number of people can perceive, judge, translate, infer, personalize, over-react, be offended, and respond however appropriately or inappropriately.

I’m not suggesting a techno-ban.  I still love sharing photos and jokes with friends and family, and the convenient of texting, but we need to get a handle and put forth an effort on not letting convenience trump actual communication.

 

After-word….

My own “baby steps” as of lately:  1) If a message doesn’t feel “right” (tone, timing etc) I either seek clarification, or, I don’t reply immediately. 2) Taking more phone “time outs” to try and be more present with people, pets, experiences etc.  3) Journaling, or blogging opposed to texting and status-updating.

 

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Drunk Dial Victim

I struggled a little to figure out how to start this story as I feel a certain responsibility in this case to protect the identity of those (him?) involved.  It was suggested to me that I should just tell the story and allow the truth publicized to be consequence… But I just can’t do it… So where it seems I am being evasive- it’s only to protect a certain level of anonymity.

Recently I ran into a former acquaintance.  He worked at a business where I frequented and helped me out a number of times.  We did become friends, however, not the type that call each other or spend time visiting without purpose.  We had lost touch about a year ago and I had not seen or heard from him until last weekend.  He has been with “the Girlfriend” for a number of years, but even when I first met him (probably six years back) it always seemed that their relationship was rocky, they were fighting, she was jealous, he was unhappy… I never really questioned or voiced opinion, it just never seemed to be positive, and on the one occasion where we did need to square up some business outside of regular working hours, she made it quite obvious this was an unwelcome intrusion, and I might be a potential threat. It may be worth noting at this point I am not completely positive as I have never asked, but my educated guess would put both of these people minimally at being ten years my seniors, common-law, and at least content to be together for convenience- this “vibe” I immediately got from her seemed childish.  Thus, while I don’t know her well, or have a personal issue with her, upon realizing she was with him on this occasion, I didn’t wish to extend the visit any longer than basic pleasantries for fear of not only my own discomfort, but also his on the drive home.

Later that afternoon, curiosity got the best of me and I sent him a text message asking him if he won at the Casino. He called me.  He apologized for losing touch and told me he had lost my number, and had been dealing with a lot.  He said he had wanted to talk to me.  I brushed it off as no big deal, and told him I hoped I hadn’t come off short earlier but that I just didn’t want things to be uncomfortable as I know “Missy” (name changed.*) can be rather possessive.  “I know.. I know… I know.” He says. Then becomes what I can only describe as cryptic.  “So, yeah, there’s a lot I would like to sit down and discuss with you, and I’ll call you tomorrow from a different number. See ya.”

Tomorrow came and went and probably a few more tomorrows before I even considered that he had never called back.  Until Friday.  I had gone out to see a band and another friend.  It was probably 11:30 the first time my phone rang.  It was loud, and naturally he asked where I was. I told him.  He said he might be coming into town.  I’m wondering if he is bored, or newly single and lonely, or all of the above and I basically tell him to let me know as I might be up for meeting for a drink or a tea. I hang up.  A couple of texts, a couple more calls which I miss because I’m still in a bar and trying to socialize… It’s loud, I’m not paying a lot of attention: I can say a number of things here to excuse my ignorance but at any rate, it’s not until the third time, I run outside, and answer, and it occurs to me:  He’s totally loaded.

I’ve dated, I’ve related, but honestly I don’t have a lot of experience with the drunk dial. I don’t think I’ve ever done it to anyone, and the only recollection I have of it being done to me was hearing the idiotic voicemails the next morning because I didn’t get the call!  Dealing with this is… a new challenge.  I tell him I’m going home, and not to come looking for me, and not to drive.  He tells me three times how much he wants to talk to me, and how much he wants to see me.  I tell him I have to hang up because I’m about to drive.  He asks me what’s going on with me and if I’m “still single.” I try logic (ha which you’re already laughing as you know that doesn’t work.): “You’re hammered and you should hang up, you’re going to regret this conversation in the morning.” “Oh. Uhm. What?! You don’t want to talk to me?”  At this point I decide short, clear, non confrontational words are best: “Call me sober.”  It works! “Ok. Bye.” Click.

… Elapsed time: 4 seconds.  Phone ringing. Should have known that was too easy.  I ignore. I ignore again. I ignore again. I get a text “hey?” I ignore. “Hey! I wanna talk to you.”  I reply: “text me sober. Go to bed.”  “Ok thanks.. Your a very pretty girl 🙂 …” (The funny part here is so far out of everything that has happened the most annoying part for me is the mis-spelling of YOU’RE, but that’s a whole other post.) Next message:  “xoxoxo”  I ignore.  Next message: “Hey…..!” and two more phone calls. Sigh. I write: “Thanks, I’m going to bed. Goodnight.” “Ok sorry…” “You do the same.” …….. “I will…Love you…:o”   OH MY GOD.   I must respond, or be forced to deal with an infinite number of “Sorry” and “hey” messages until I’m lucky enough that he passes out… or turn off my phone and know my voice-mail will be full in the morning. I reply:  “Dude. Go to bed. You’re hammered.”

About five minutes goes by. The phone rings again. FFS. I let it go to voice-mail, where he leaves the most nonchalant message telling me “I’ll be at my buddies place around 9, call me.” Please let that be the end…..   Thankfully it is.

The next morning….

I see his name on my phone, and I make a point of laughing as I answer the phone and say in an intentionally way too cheerful voice “Heeeeeeeyyyyyy, how ya feeling champ?!” I mean, I don’t have to be himey, he’s already handling the consequences with a wicked hang over, feeling totally mortified… and is calling to  apologize profusely for making a royal A$$ of himself. Right? A few groans, and “not so great.” And…  The words I’m expecting don’t come.  In their place, the following:  “I left my phone on the counter, and Missy saw it.”

… That’s it?  REALLY!?!?!?  Really.  At least I don’t have to be concerned about her reading into anything in my responses… #maybethealcoholwasnottheproblem#