Emails and Texting … Hightech Menace or Masterpiece?
Up to this point in my life, I have lost the friendship of 4 family members, 3 friends and one job, all because of hasty written and sent emails.
Like the arrival of the telephone, the coming of e-mail has put a stop to the way family and friends communicate. We no longer hear a voice on the other end of our communication, and that makes it so much easier to say things we would never think of saying to that friend, family member or boss. No, if they were live, they could answer our words with a retort of their own. No, it’s so much easier to type out outrageous opinions, undying love or secrets on a keyboard when you know the person you’re contacting is not on line and won’t read your message immediately.
With the coming of the new millennium, we entered into a new time. A time when the emphasis isn’t so much on creativity as it is on speed and efficiency. Ap time when the old-fashioned art of letter writing and phone calls to friends and family has become as passe as my manual typewriter.
Taking pen and ink to paper, or calling a friend and talking one on one with them, is considered an outdated mode of communication, so long as the e-mail, fax and smart phones are handy.
At least, that’s what the high tech generation would have us believe. They say it saves valuable time, energy, stationery and postage. And so, the personal touch becomes another casualty in our quest for high-tech modern conveniences.
Missing The Best Part of Communication
In my opinion, the high-tech communicator is missing out on the best part of communicating. They will never know the joys our generation felt in preserving those bundles of hand-written romantic letters, bound in tattered stacks and tied with ribbons of blue, preserved through the years as a narrative of lasting love.
A quickly written e-mail message can be opened to interpretation and often can be misunderstood.
What I like best about the old-fashioned hand-written letter is that it gives the writer time to pause, to think about what they are writing. Sometimes a hand written letter will stay on my desk for a day or two before I finish it. Thereby, giving me some time to read it again and again and maybe change a word or sentence in order to soften or strengthen the meaning of my message.
Computer Communication: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Some years ago, I gave in to the urgings of friends and family and entered the fast-paced computer world. I enjoyed the speed and swiftness in which my mail was sent and received.
I especially liked the friendly voice who announced,” You’ve got mail.” But I was to learn that this wonderful invention of email was a double-eged sword. I would learn that typing out thoughts and sending them quickly, without pausing to read and reread them, could be a life-altering experience.
One day, some years ago, I had a little misunderstanding with my boss. Normally, the problem would have been resolved with a personal one-on-one phone call. But, because I now had email, I instantly fired back a response, putting little thought into my words, since no one was really reading them at the moment, it would be an hour or more before I got his return email. My editor, in turn, did the same. Before you could say, “dot com”, our messages had escalated into a full-fledged argument. The end result, after 14 years, I lost my job!
My story isn’t a rare one. I know of two different family members and several friends who are no longer speaking to one another because of email messages sent in haste and regretted in leisure. One of my friends caught a glimpse of her friend’s husband with another woman. She fired off an email to her friend about it. The friend lost a husband and she lost a dear friend.
Of course, she could have given her friend the same information in person on the phone. In person, or on the phone, she could have heard her friends voice, or seen her expression and been able to gauge her emotions. She would have known instinctively, by her friends reactions, whether or not to tell her the information.
The Sound of Mail in The Mailbox
Like most of my generation, who were born during WW II, I still feel a sense of happy anticipation upon hearing the sound of mail dropping into my front porch mail box; even though I know, on most days, all I’ll find are bills and unwanted circulars. There’s also the possibility that a letter, or card, from a loved one may arrive among all that daily hodgepodge of paper. And, it pleases me to know that someone took the time to write a personal message, which I will read again and again to discover something new each time.
It’s not necessary that we all be great wits or scholars when we communicate something in a message, more important is the thought we put into our messages. Fear of poor grammar and bad spelling has made us slaves to the computer written letter and to its instant spell checker. We let it choose our words and at times even change them.
Yes, taking pen in hand to write a handwritten letter does take more time, you must find the paper, locate a pen, then find an envelope and add a 44 cent stamp. And while you’re gathering all these accouterments, you will also be giving yourselves some time to think about what you want to say – what you want to convey in your message.
So are emails and texting a menace or a masterpiece?
Like all new innovations, email must be tempered with the user’s common sense and good judgment.
So, the next time you’re just about ready to click that “send” button on your computerized mail, take the time to read your message over again and even once again, just to be sure your words aren’t open to misinterpretation, one of the biggest problems with the typed message.
That extra minute can save a friendship or perhaps even your job!