We are all well aware of the dangers of texting and driving. The danger I am going to share is surrounding text messaging in a whole new way. Many times I have run into the situation that my written words carry messages I never intended. The intentions are never good ones either! I am always baffled how what I type can be perceived in a negative light. It has happened repeatedly with several different people over the decades. I meticulously chose my words carefully. I try to employ smiley faces in order to set a tone. No matter how careful I am there are many times I find myself explaining how I never meant the words to be taken the way they were taken. Over the years, I chalked up to my shortcoming in expressing the written word that reflected my true soul, because I had been trained as a research writer. Maybe it was from years of writing educational research papers that focused on factual data and best practices in the field of learning. I was too technical as a writer. My writing was too dry, lacking emotion and compassion from the days of research based writing. In spite of my high quality writing, as both a student and a grant writer, I was unable to express my true sincerity of my heart in personal affairs. So I fumble through life making ever effort to ensure my words are not misunderstood and making amends when the words come across in a way I never intended.
Today I saw this matter in a whole new light. I had a conversation with a dear friend that was sharing an experience of texting mishap. Oh, how his words were taken out of context and understood to be something entirely different from what he intended. It was so severe, he is concerned the friendship may never be mended. As I, he spent much time explaining to the other person the words he send did not mean what was understood. We continued the discussion on why this mix up could happen. He felt better after sharing with me. I felt better that I could help him gain clarity surrounding a hurtful experience.
I got to think about this conversation in-depth after I left. The issue with texting or e-mail is once the written word is comprehended one way it is difficult to reverse the understanding. I pondered that thought. How could one person’s intent of an idea be understood in the opposite manner? It pulled me back to the days in high school literature class. Even the writing of classic authors can have many different understandings. If a famous author, who society holds as a master of the written word ,could have his or her writings understood in countless ways, it is certainly understandable how a quick text message of a few words could cause chaos.
I came to realize a very important fact about texting a message. What a text lacks, that even a master writer would include in verse, is emotion. When I send a text my audience can not see the love in my heart, the empathy behind the words I type or my eyes to see how my soul is a part of what I am expressing. A text can just never replace that human connection. The great lesson I have learned is if I have something very important to convey, it is best to practice face to face interaction.
The human experience is an art form I fear is disappearing with my generation. At least I know I am losing that human warmth of a heartfelt conversation by interacting in a text message. Being from the last generation to not have technology at its finger tips since birth, I understand what it feels like to speak to others face to face. I am not certain my children even know what that feels like! The children of today do most of their social interaction via technology. The dangers of a misunderstood texts seems to be uniquely generational in nature. My children do not complain that their friends have misunderstood the intent of yet one more text. Those are never words I heard come out of my kids’ mouths. The misunderstood text message belong to the old people. The older generation needs the facial expressions, the intonation of the voice and the human experience to engage fully. Maybe the younger generations will not even understand the tragedy of social media replacing the human connection. What is there to miss if there is no knowledge of the experience? On the flip side, what will happen to the human experience, in general, if communication lacks emotion? What will happen to the emotional conversation in the future?