A little more conversation (communicating in the digital age)

It’s 20 years since the first text was sent (than 8 trillion texts are sent each year).

And so began the communications revolution.

Texting, emailing, Facebook, twitter and skype all mean that we have more ways than ever before to communicate with each other 24/7, 365 days a year.

And yet in a strange way the quality of our communications has diminished. More has become less as we spend less time talking to each other face to face and more time reading texts, facebook posts or emails in a virtual world. There seems to be less time available to invest in quality conversations.

We’ve in effect become time poor always flipping between different channels to make sure that we are plugged in. The instant nature of communications means an expectation of an immediate response. Gone are the days of deliberation and consideration. Now we all want people to reply instantly.

If the IT system goes down we all panic but as shown recently at my place of work once the initial phase of concern was over people actually talked to each other.

This move to ‘pot-noddle’ communications means that brevity is the key. We don’t have the luxury of a well thought out piece of writing: it has to be a sentence or paragraph or in the world of micro blogging 140 characters.

I’m no Luddite. The communications revolution has made the world a smaller place. It has led to a challenge of those holding the levers of power: witness the Arab spring and role of social media.

But we do need time. It allows us to think about our viewpoint without being too rash. It means we can craft something which makes sense and can’t be mis-intrepreted easily.

I can remember sending texts and eagerly waiting for a reply, checking my phone every few minutes. The same now happens with social media, eager to see whether anyone likes my post or retweets a tweet.

In many ways my networks have expanded in a way I could never have imagined when the first text travelled between phones.

But let’s not forget the humble letter, essay or even face to face conversation. These experiences enrich lives in a way that a text or tweet can never by adding a personal touch to the way we communicate.

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