communication breakdown

Texting. Cool toy. Not cool for communications. I really don’t like it. It’s fun for a quick “hello” or a “miss ya, sexy,” but when it comes down to real communication, I can’t stand it. People use it instead of actually picking up the telephone and talking to me. Either that is actually how they communicate all the time, or it’s a way of telling me what they want without having to really ask. Texting is the passive aggressive person’s dream!

I see a lot of people using email like this, too. They’ll email something very important to me because they are afraid of how I’m going to react. I recently had a woman tell me she didn’t want to see me anymore this way. (Too, a friend just relayed a story where he told a woman that he wasn’t going to continue pursuing their relationship over a text message!) Last month, a guy quit a very important job under my employment four days before he was to execute the job by sending me an email at 2am. I’m assuming, after a few beers and a couple tokes, this joker got the courage to sit down and pour out his heart as to why he was in a “bad headspace” and couldn’t keep up “the charade” any longer. Now, sure, I know you’re suppose to give a letter of resignation, but when it is four days before you are going into production on a huge show, have the courage to call me and talk to me yourself. Maybe we can work it out. At least, then, I wouldn’t think you were a coward.

I, myself, just ended my association with a job, and I called. I got a voice mail. I left a message on the voice mail, telling my superior that I wouldn’t be returning to work in the fall, spelling out important personal reasons for my departure, and if he wants to talk to me about it further, he can call me. I haven’t heard from him. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have left the information on the voice mail, but at least, I had the courage to actually call and risk talking to the guy. If it’s my luck that he didn’t pick up, then that’s how the cards fell. Plus, I told him to call me, if he wants to discuss it. He didn’t call, and I don’t believe he will. That’s his choice. Still, to quit a job or break up with someone over email or texting is lame.

A few months back, I heard that Mariah Carey’s manager, Benny Medina, eliminated his email as a form of communication. He said, “Generally, E-mail ends up as a form of communication that can go completely unanswered, with people thinking they’ve followed up on an outstanding issue when they haven’t, and it’s bad at communicating a feeling or an emotion.”

Personally, I like it when people take the time to write complete letters in email, starting with a traditional “Dear…” and ending with some sort of proper sign off – at least a “Thanks,” but often, people will just start typing thoughts in fragments and run on sentences, ending with the initial of their first name. I’ve done this too (for those of you out there reading this who’ve received these kinds of emails from me), but I’m just saying I pay more attention to the proper letters that are written to me. They feel like they are more important somehow. They feel like you care about what you’re writing and the person to whom you’re writing.

I’m not out to crusade for change on how people email and text. They are new forms of communicating, and, I’m sure, like television, radio and the telephone itself, they will evolve into something I cannot even imagine at this point. Hell, as I write this in Microsoft Word, I look back to the word “texting” and it’s underlined in red, indicating that it is misspelled or not a word. That’s how new texting is. It isn’t even considered a word.

I could also explore how the English language is being completely transformed by short hand like LOL and WTF. However, there are linguists out there who are writing many great studies about this subject far better than my brief thoughts, and I encourage you to seek them out. All I’m looking for is some proper communication. When you have something important to say to someone, whether business or personal, say it. Don’t cower behind your Blackberry and tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore, and certainly don’t quit a job via AOL because you’re afraid of the heat. If there’s heat, then there’s usually a reason for the heat. Take it the heat, and learn from it. More often than not, though, you’ll be surprised. People are far more understanding than given credit, and if they do not understand, they don’t need to be in your life anyway.

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