Friday, June 3, 2011
The Poison of Text-based Messaging
I am no saint. I text. Though mainly I do it because everyone else does. You can't force someone to meet with you, or pick up the phone. But I hate it. I really do. And hate is a strong word I passionately apply to my feelings towards this abhorrent phenomenon of communication.
I want to write a paper on how our reliance on texting is creating a psychological rift in our social demeanors. It's the same epidemic that preservatives in our food have caused. Because the problem isn’t clear and obvious it is slowly ruining our psyche like those preservatives have ruined our gastrointestinal systems. One day we woke up and realized that the reason we all have such problems with our stomachs is because we've been slowly poisoning ourselves; just as we'll realize one strong reason why we have such issues communicating with each other is because we've slowly trained ourselves out of human contact and relations.
I think we're letting the importance of physically present communication fall by the wayside. "But I'm at work." "But I just have something quick to say." "But it's just easier." These are convenient excuses, but I believe, simply blinders that help us ignore the quiet killer. Patches of 'quick and easy' versus 'quality and health'. It's the McDonalds cheeseburger of communication. We've been moving steadfast into the realm of realizing how bad and unhealthy that kind of food is for our bodies. We need to recognize what unhealthy communication is doing to our minds and our emotional connections.
I watched a study that researchers made on infants. This study was actually about the linguistic learning curve in humans, and how it dramatically decreases after only a few short years. It also discusses a critical learning point between 8 and 10 months wherein an infant will learn specific sounds related to their particular language, and after that period the infant is no longer able to process the distinctions in other language’s sounds that are different to it's own.
What I found interesting, though, and as relates to the current issue, is that during this study researchers decided to see if it would make a difference if the child would learn equally as well from having a human teacher, as compared to a television, or simple auditory stimulation.
The children learned absolutely nothing from the television or recordings. It required human contact and interaction for them to acquire the skills.
No, we are not infants. But I believe that this highlights the importance of verbal, visual, and physical contact. It is ingrained in our psyche. We need this contact; straight from the instincts of birth.
I have been back from my trip to Europe for only 2 weeks and I already feel a serious decline in my state of happiness. I keep finding myself wishing I were there, chatting with people over breakfast, having coffee with new friends, going to dinner with people. And therein lay the obvious connection. Now that I am in Vancouver my main form of communication is back to text based messaging. It's just too difficult to get a hold of my friends and too easy to text. My physical contact with people has declined 10 fold, and so has my level of joy.
I'm sick and tired of eating McCrappy text messages. I honestly believe it's an epidemic of our human connectivity and that this is directly tied in to our level of happiness. I believe a strong reason for the general malaise many of us feel is directly linked with our addiction to text based messaging. I know from personal experience that if I am upset about something and ‘talk it out’ through text, I am left distinctly less satisfied than if I were to have a verbal or physical conversation. And there have been one too many instances in the past years as texting became more and more common, of a long drawn out text miscommunication, (who am I kidding; fight), that upset me to no end, only to be resolved and deflated within minutes on the phone or conversation in person. And more often than not, even if the argument was still worked out over text, that lingering itch of dissatisfaction would linger.
For the most part, we are social creatures. We crave, desire, and need social acceptance. Our basic psychology demands communication between each other. But, like eating McDonalds instead of a healthy meal, we are poisoning ourselves. Sure, we may not always be able to eat perfectly, and likewise communicate healthy, but we should put in a sincere and motivated effort to achieve the highest level of health. Physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies - http://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies.html
Image 1 pulled from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Texting.jpg
Image 2 pulled from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/7612663/Teenagers-prefer-texting-to-talking.html
**I also realize a large reason we text as much as we do, is because it is cheaper than minutes on the phone. I feel this should change. This world is driven by money, and in a tight economy such as we have now, every penny counts. I believe if using minutes to call someone were cheaper than texting, it could make a huge difference.***