I’m always fascinated by the way people communicate. Tone of voice, word choice, and facial expressions all contribute to both the delivery and the receiving of messages, don’t they?
The words we use also morph over time. “Cool” somehow changed over time from describing the temperature to making a statement about how hip something is: unless, of course, you use the tone and your face to make it an insult. You can say something like, “Hey, cool shirt” and it’s a compliment. You can say the same thing, raise your eyebrow just a bit, put a smirk on your face, and suddenly it’s not a compliment at all.
We’re constantly analyzing this kind of tone as we communicate all day. We think, consciously or unconsciously, about the way we say things, and we certainly think about what others say to us.
Texting complicates everything, doesn’t it? We love it because texts don’t really have tone. If they can’t hear you, they can’t hear any tone, right? Uh-oh. The receiver gets to add tone to whatever we text them.
If someone texts me “The meeting is at 2:00”, I have to think about how I respond. If I say “k”, that’s bad. Really bad. (If you’re as old as me and don’t know that’s bad, trust me-it’s bad). If you text “k…”, that’s even worse. “K” means you’re not happy, and “…” means there’s more you want to say but you’re going to hold your tongue.
So, under these new rules of communication, I can’t just acknowledge the text. I have to text something like “Got It!!!lolomg#you’rethebest#loveyourmeetings” If I don’t include a bunch of exaggerated emoji’s and such, the receiver wonders, “Is he mad about the meeting? Is he mad at me? Is he mad about something else and is he going to yell at me during the meeting?”
Do me a favor. Go back and look at some of your texts. Read them the way they look. Literally. Make your tone of voice and your facial expression match what you see. Does “Held up by a train-I’ll be there in a minute” really deserve a response that sounds and looks like someone just won the dang lottery?
Who made these rules? Texting isn’t all that old, which means all of this protocol has developed in an extraordinarily short period of time. Who then, developed this crazy system?
I have a theory. I remember these sorts of communications, with wildly overdone emotions, swings in mood, over-interpreting of tone, and inserting all kinds of meaning that isn’t really there.
It was called seventh grade.