Out of Con-text!

In this modern day of technological advances that seem to be emerging at break-neck speed, is it any wonder that it’s very difficult to keep up? All of these options to become more ‘with it’ on the social scene. But many of these options don’t really promote a social atmosphere at all. (see earlier post: https://sporterhall.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/where-is-the-social-in-media/) Press a button for this and another for that. All of these varying options for modes of communication, leave little to the imagination and even less to good old fashioned face-to-face and voice-to-voice contact.

I recall when emailing first became a big deal. I pretty much went with the flow and joined in because this is what everyone was doing. If I wanted to be in contact with others, I had to get on the bandwagon and use this form of communication also. Eventually, emailing became as easy and effortless for me as speaking directly with someone, as it was once a big part of my work. But I couldn’t help but notice that there was a very crucial piece missing to this new fad of interaction. I couldn’t see the face(s) of those I was corresponding with via email. I couldn’t hear the tone in their voice(s), or lack thereof. During some of the written interactions, I wondered if the person had intended to come across as strongly as their words projected or if I was simply misinterpreting their words?

Then along came cell phones and text messaging. Now, I will admit, I was not a fan of text messaging in the beginning. I could not bring myself to a rational conclusion as to why someone would prefer to spend time typing a message into a tiny phone -vs- speaking with the person directly. It just didn’t seem practical to me. I quickly noticed that people could practice avoidance very easily with this somewhat incognito method of communication. A person could decline an invite with a quick impersonal text. They could project a different persona than the true person behind the text. But once again, I found myself getting on board this train, because this is how most people rolled…at least those that I communicated with. Over time, I became very comfortable with text messaging, but I still didn’t necessarily like it.

I can’t tell you how many times something has been misconstrued or taken out of con-text as a result of texting. Just like with emailing, you can’t hear the person’s tone, so you look for it in the words they use in their written correspondence. The tone can be mistaken and things can become very messy simply because people no longer interact on a more personal level. Everyone is texting it seems. You walk down a busy street and you literally see people walking, as if in a trance, staring at their cell phones as if their lives depended on it. And sometimes, I think it does. What did people do before the emergence of cell phones and emails? We picked up the phone and called people and arranged face-to-face meetings and social gatherings. Nowadays, you can go to a social gathering, and find a great number of people on their cell phones! Every time I go out to dinner, I see a handful of people on their cell phones. But wait a minute. The whole purpose of getting together is to be social, right? But people are on their cell phones, being unsociable.

Overall, I try and use text messaging only when direct communication is impossible at the time. I will often interrupt the back and forth messaging and just call the person out of frustration. And nothing is more maddening, in my opinion, than when a person stops responding…they just drop out of sight leaving you wondering why they haven’t responded to your text. If you had been on a phone conversation instead, you would know when the conversation ended because you would both have hung up the receivers. Remember that? When I’m out to dinner, I turn my cell phone down so that I can’t hear it. After all, I go out to dinner to interact with a person, not my phone. All that back and forth just seems a bit ridiculous. Or maybe I’m just taking things out of…con-text. What do you think?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane Funston
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 17:55:57

    Hi Sylvia, getting back to normal in Nevada, whatever that means. Just started looking at this blog, will look at other later. I am enjoying this so much. I have to laugh in picking this topic because my life is on the computer with the isolated place I live in. I miss Rochester already. I agree with your take on social media, they are impersonal but some of us are starving in the desert of the middle of nowhere. Glad we met, I know we’d be good friends if I was closer

    Like

    Reply

    • sporterhall
      Aug 07, 2014 @ 18:43:24

      Hi Diane! So glad you made it back to your neck of the woods safely. Again, it will not be the same without you in class on Saturday. I agree with you also and think we’d be good friends if you resided here. But….remember…sometimes the best of friends live miles and miles apart. Take care and lets stay in touch! Glad your enjoying my blog to by the way! Have a great day! 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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