Friday, 15 April 2011

Is text-messaging ruining real communication?

Text messaging in itself cannot be held responsible for ruining real communication. But when text messaging becomes the exclusive means of communication, there is a problem. For some people, texting is the only way to talk! To make matters worse, many carry text messaging syntax into everything else.
By its nature, text messaging demands some kind of shorthand or jargon to work effectively. It is when this jargon is carried into emails, essays, school work and business reports that 'texting' - for want of a better term - becomes a problem.
Letter writing used to be an art in itself! This art has declined dramatically since the advent of the email age. Letters required thought and planning. Emails are different. The speed of the medium encourages us to write and send without much thought. Miscommunication is common.
This trend predates the text message style by some time, but texting has accelerated this process. Carelessness has entered the art of writing. Documents are prepared and released without proof-reading. The spell checker doesn't reveal that the wrong word has been used.
A more worrying trend is that for some, text messaging has replaced real interpersonal communication. Communication takes place behind a screen. The on-line persona bears little relation to the actual person. Face to face communication has become a problem. Perhaps this is indicative of other personality or communication disorders. But many young people spend a vast amount of time behind their computer screens or cell phones communicating with peers. Little time is spent in face-to-face conversation.
How often have you seen a group of young people together all keying messages on their cell phones at a furious rate?
Of course it must be noted that these are trends. In spite of learning bad writing habits through emails and messaging, most people are able to make the transition from one medium to another with ease. There are still many people that are able to communicate effectively.
But there are indications of an emerging trend. Increasingly, young people entering the worlds of business or higher education arrive with very sloppy writing habits. They have to be taught to pay attention to grammar, spelling and to proof-read their work.
The style of text messaging communication can encourage sloppiness and a lack of care in communication. But as with any other forms of slang or jargon, most people know when its use is appropriate. Of course there are some that have lost the ability to communicate face-to-face, but these types of people have always been around. 

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