I have not looked for any scientific backing to what I’m about to say. It is just an idea. An idea which has undoubtedly been addressed before.
Social media websites and text massaging have become the norm for how many of us communicate, ahead of face-to-face conversations and phone calls.
With social media and messaging, it’s easier to think about what we want to say before we say it. We can spend lots of time refining our words before we hit ‘send’.
It’s not like this with conversations. In order to keep the dialogue flowing, you have to respond fast.
Comparatively, this makes texting seem a lot easier than speaking. In a world where ‘life is tough’ or whatever your preferred cliché is, it’s common sense to pick the easy option, right?
This could explain why verbal communication can come as a shock to lots of us, and why we’d describe ourselves with a term like ‘socially anxious’. Texting has become our safe zone, our strength. Speaking is our weakness, and it scares us.
Social media has also given us the opportunity to avoid saying anything at all. And this can create friction between people.
Let’s say you’ve arranged to meet a friend for coffee, and then found out you can’t go. When conversations and phone calls were the default for communication, you would have to verbally tell your friend you can’t make it. There’s no avoiding that.
With social media, you can get invited to coffee and just not go, without telling your friend why. Personal experience has shown me this lack of verbal communication can create frustration.
Sometimes, there’s no beating a phone call or face-to-face talk when it comes to socialising. There have been times when a conversation seemed terrifying to me. But I’ve come to think of it like learning a new skill. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Social media and text messaging give us power over what we do and don’t say. But like any kind of power, it can be mishandled. Conversations and phone calls can seem intimidating, but the more we take part in them the less scary they become.