I have had a cell phone for 8 years now. Throughout that time I have sent a plethora of texts with few responses. If you take out the texts from my parents and the “sorry I thought this was the other Julia” texts, you are left with a lot of awkward “hahahaha what?”.
In MUCH contrast to real life, over text I will often make a joke or a witty (but SUPER adorable) comment and receive a less than enthusiastic response. I like to blame this on the fact that a lot of my charm, charisma, humor, attractiveness, self-worth, and overall killer personality is lost through the screen. Without the help of inflection or the classic, but ever so subtle, im-just-kidding-with-you wink, it is often hard to read the true meaning of written text.
This is of course not a new issue. Written word has always carried a large responsibility. It allows itself to be interpreted however the reader choses. Although this problem is not original, it has more recently gotten out of hand. More people are communicating through text, and more specifically a computer screen, than ever before. With this influx and change in the way we communicate, we are no longer relying on the sound of someone’s voice or facial expression, but we are deciding whether someone is serious based on the emoji, or for all the hip people out there: Bitmoji, they use. This disconnect from actual human emotion, is one of the biggest issues with technology.
In class a couple weeks ago we talked about Justine Sacco and her tweet heard around the world. Sacco was able to show us that there truly is such thing as bad publicity. At first glance, the tweet was nothing short of insensitive and riddled with racism. Through explanation the tweet is still insensitive and riddled with racism, but Sacco tries to explain that it was all a big misunderstanding and a result of misinterpretation. Whether or not this claim was true or it was just said to (try) save her ass, the issue with digital communication is still present.
On a More Personal Level
When I was in fifth grade, my teacher told us there were two important rules that we should remember now that we are in our last leg of elementary school.
- Deodorant is no longer a cute “grown-up” thing to occasionally use, it is an absolute necessity.
- Every thought need not be spoken
Mr. Hoye’s second rule has always resonated with me (I guess the first one has too). We, as a society, have become more digital and the basic rules we live by should reflect this: Every thought need not be spoken, and most certainly not tweeted. The increased amount of misinterpretation in digital communication is not just limited to the media. This miscommunication also happens on a more personal level. In a Huffington Post article, relationship guru: Randi Gunther talks about the negative effects texting and social media have on the modern day relationship. Throughout the article she emphasizes the lack of emotion and understanding people have when communicating through written word.
The argument is often made that texting and other forms of digital communication are beneficial because they help to stay in frequent contact with a loved one. Although this point holds some merit, Gunther disagrees:
“When it comes to intimate, deeply emotional communication, texting breaks down. Using just words, pictures, emoticons, or even Face Time skyping cannot adequately communicate the entirety of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual information that couples need to accurately experience each other’s presence. Only face-to-face proximity can allow them to experience touch, rhythm, voice intonations, body language, and facial expressions. Without them, texting can be woefully inadequate.” (Gunther)
The more we talk about AI in class the more important this whole emotional aspect becomes. Artificial intelligence is becoming better and more efficient in the majority of our jobs and day to day activities, but what AI cannot do is feel. Not to get all emotional, but we should be!
This post was not written in protest of texting, tweeting, or any other sort of social media. I just wanted to prove the point that no matter how computerized and technologically progressive we become nothing can and should replace human emotion.