I was content with a cell phone with very primitive features while the world around me kept upgrading and upgrading into the advanced texting and internet surfing fastlane. I was shocked when I watched my teenager who had never had a cell phone of her own, text with finger fast reflexes and a texting language that was Greek to me. How did she learn that I thought? And then I realized that in her world, it was a necessary social function.
You may be relieved to know that I have finally moved into the current century of technology. I upgraded to a phone that allows me to text with ease, and I have become more adept at texting and chatting. I enjoy the ease of communication that comes with a quick text that can be sent and responded to at convenience, and I enjoy the chat box dialogue with friends and family on the internet. But, I am disturbed by the impersonal tone that inevitably occurs to a relationship when all or most of the interaction you have with someone is via text or chat.
I was concerned when I heard a mother of a teenager talk about how her daughter will not answer the phone when she tries to call her, but will send her a text message saying “What do you want?”. In my opinion, that is rude and disrespectful but to some it is considered the accepted norm of communication and the one they prefer. I don’t think I want my child learning that is normal communication. I want them to still know how to pick up a phone and be personable enough to talk to someone. No matter how convenient, the technological dialogue can not replace the meaningful changes in voicetones (whether subtle or distinct), the sound of laughter, the tenderness of a heartfelt wish. The person you think you get to know via back and forth exchanges of technical chit chat, may not be as you imagined. In fact, when in person you do meet, you may be surprised at the unexpected awkwardness that replaces the comfortable connnection you thought you had. Technological dialogue is a necessary function in today’s society, but I think something precious is being lost to this new generation who are so comfortable with relating to a person via an impersonal screen.