Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Text Not Lest Ye Be Judged

After a recent rather disturbing instant message exchange on Facebook I've decided to give text based public sharing of most controversial ideas and thoughts especially political thoughts a permanent rest. I'm also considering closing my Facebook account for the same reasons. Personal thoughts and daily activities posted on facebook are not phone calls face to face visits and can not substitute general friendship or affection.

Political views flung into public forums as posts or text messages are not discussions. Rather they are statements or perhaps even declarations. Words that lack 90% or more of what interpersonal communication is. And yet people assign 100% value to them and take them seriously and react with judgment often very harshly without having a clue as to the origins of the idea in question. This can damage more than relationships. It can damage society and threaten the cohesiveness of the social order.

Therefore, when I discuss sensitive topics with you dear friends we will both take the time to be there. Face to face with all our powers of observation and empathy at the ready. To listen more than talk. To consider what is being said on all levels of the emotional and intelectual matrix of the being before us. To fully appreciate and understand the mix of feelings thoughts and ideas contained in the body mind and heart of that important other person in front of you we have to be fully present. You can't read a person's heart in text. It's impossible. The reader assigns values attitudes and meaning that is no better than a simple guess of where the other person is within the discourse and discussion. You miss out on subtle body language the twitch of an eye or mouth, intuitions insecurities and fears vanish behind words without a face.

The only time I want to talk about anything any more is when you're smack dab in front of me when we are sitting quietly together discussing what we think feel about our hopes and dreams... important issues discussed with love and understanding. I did not understand how disrespectful text communication is and how greatly it diminishes us.

Words can be blunt dangerous weapons when carelessly used. But words reduced to sound bites and tweets are not language that carry true communication.  They are wide open to subjective interpretation - which if used without precision is usually wrong. This distinction is vitally important to sincere mutuality and the evolution of relationships via quality interpersonal communication.

It's very dangerous to believe that these forms of communication benefit us in any real way.  We have not caught up with technology, and probably never will.  Rules of conduct are not yet set fully formed or entirely understood by even the savviest internet provocateurs as we enter into a world suddenly dominated by abbreviant communication. Perhaps I am late to the party but I believe I also may be one of the first to let go of all this.  If people want to know about my day or are interested enough to want to talk they can call me, visit or drag me out of the house on an adventure ...or just fucking invite me for coffee.  Developing real interest from people is reflected in the interest we show in others.  You get out of any endeavor exactly what you put into it.  Creativity in a well designed text is key to the echo of its peripheral meaning.  But it will never replace the complete well constructed sentence paragraph hand shake, pat on the back, smile kiss or hug.  Communication in our society is not improved by texting when we expect it to replace the proper maintenance of relationship.   I believe it's damaging if not destructive to friendships relationships and marriages when it is used improperly leaving large sections of an unsuspecting world lost if not lonelier than ever.

"Text not lest ye be judged" means you had better be careful what you say in the brief sound bites toss into the view of others.  Precision in communication means you convey the exact emotion you intended.  Hence the Emoji explosion.  But that's hardly of much use especially when we are still absent.  Phones have a curious function they make old school telephone calls.  That thing where your voice is transmitted to a small speaker in the phone of the person you wish to speak with.  If you really care you'll back off the texting and use your phone to show what kind of hero you are. In any case knowing exactly what to say is an art from that will never die.  In fact it is more necessary now than ever.

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