In today’s fast-paced world technology often dominates our lives. Text messaging and email has become a common form of communication. In fact, many people prefer to communicate mostly via these methods. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day” (Smith, 2011, p. 3).
One benefit to text messaging and email is the ease of communication. Messages can be sent quickly and are received almost instantaneously. Not to mention, access is practically unlimited since most individuals carry their phone or computer with them at all times. Perhaps technology has opened the lines of communication, however, some things are not communicated with a text message or email.
When we interact with other people, we are constantly giving and receiving wordless signals. These nonverbal behaviors send messages to the other person. The gestures we make, the speed at which we talk, how loud we speak, how much eye contact we make, etc. are all forms of nonverbal communication. These signals help tell the other person our feelings, like if we are being honest and how well we are listening. Even when we are not speaking we are still saying something through our bodies.
These nonverbal behaviors are lost when we utilize text messages and email as our primary form of communication. We cannot see someone’s facial expressions to read the emotions behind their words. Nor can we see their body movement, posture, or gestures to better understand the meaning of their statements.
By using these forms of communication in substitution for actual interaction, we may struggle to understand other’s feelings and identify what someone needs. Without the cues from nonverbal behavior, we are more likely to miscommunicate and misinterpret what others are saying. These mishaps could inadvertently upset or insult someone. While text messages or emails are sometimes appropriate and necessary, it is important to remember that certain things are best communicated in person.
Written By: Madison Hurd, M.A.
Smith, A. (2011) Americans and text messaging. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Cell-Phone-Texting-2011/Main-Report.aspx
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