In modern times, many of us have learned to communicate through digital platforms both regularly and easily. Instead of sending a letter, calling someone on the phone, or setting up a time to see them in person, we resort to digital methods. We send an email, type a text or get in touch via social media. While electronically mediated conversations are most often the fastest route to communicate with others, is it the best? As our lives become increasingly digitally-dependent, we must ask ourselves how this means of communication not only effects our language, but how it might even impact our relationships.
In terms of language, digital communications have encouraged us to be succinct, to piece together fragments and to open words and phrases up to interpretation. Gone are the days of eloquence and a rich vocabulary. From emails to tweets, we've been taught to prefer a message that gets to the point in a quick and dry manner, rather than a message that is imbued with thought, emotion and character. Which one is more "clear"? Which one delivers more information? And most importantly, does this new manner of communicating follow you from virtual life to real life?
This leads us to digital language's impact on relationships. With such condensed, direct messaging, digital language has completely obliterated a communication essential: tone. Now, the author must leave it up to the reader to piece together her acronyms, neologisms, abbreviations and sentence fragments and determine the tone for themselves. While a quick text about when and where to be for dinner might get all of the information across, if you call that person on the phone with the same message, they'll automatically get more information about your feelings based on how you say it and the intonation of your voice. Furthermore, if text is your only option, do we not owe it to the people in our lives to take a little time and send them a thorough, clear, un-fragmented message filled with both information and tonal cues?
In short, we see digital conversations as an unavoidable part of modern life, but not as an effective means of communication. Whether you're sending an email to a work colleague, texting your spouse, or responding to a stranger's comment on Instagram, before you hit send, think about the impact your digital message could make. Instead of an hour-long text banter, set up a time to meet for coffee. Instead of responding to a message with "LOL," try typing out a full sentence or two to communicate more thoughtfully.
Through this small experiment, you'll not only find yourself being more mindful about how you communicate, but you'll also send a small, but impactful signal to those around you that they are deserving of a thoughtful, personal response no matter the situation.