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We have all sent a text message at some time or another. We have all also not received a text back. You think to yourself, “Are they just busy? Did I upset them?” There are many ways that texts, or their absence, can be misconstrued.
Education professor Winnie Needham discussed how important body language is, and how it isn’t present in texts. “When you’re in a face-to-face conversation. you can pick up on the other person’s body language, emotional state, and can immediately recognize all the clues that aren’t present in texts.”
Senior Lyssa Winslow also commented on how emotions aren’t present during texting. She said, “Often times we hide behind screens instead of confronting the real emotional issues that people are trying to avoid.”
Needham mentioned how she felt that texting has become such a common form of communication in which we are more relaxed and sloppy. “I think that somehow we pretend when we are texting someone that it’s not as important,” she said. “It’s become common place so we care less about it.” She has found people are almost more formal when in a face-to-face conversation.
Sociology professor Billy Miller agrees that texts are often sloppily constructed. “It happens far too often when we text or email we, generally as a society, are not very good at writing; punctuation, how to formulate a sentence and that gets misconstrued,” he said. “Punctuation is crucial if it is not put in the right place.”
While correct punctuation is crucial, so are correct words. On many smartphones, there is a “helpful” feature called AutoCorrect. This is meant to help fix misspelled words automatically, but it can often correct your spelling into a different word that wasn’t intended. Sometimes if people are texting really fast they don’t notice it, because it’s automatic, and it could correct “now” into “not” and change the whole concept of a sentence.
Another variable is that when we are texting there is available time between each statement being typing. Miller said, “Because of this time gap people read into the text a lot more than what it really is, which would not happen, I argue, if we would just sit down and have a conversation.”
We also have the option of having our “read receipts” on with iMessaging, and this shows if the person has read your text. Many acknowledged that this asset was created to be helpful, but it can be more damaging to communication than some may think. Junior Chase Schneider said, “People can use it to manipulate the situation, like, ‘I’m choosing not to reply back to you, I’ll let you stew and think.’”
Winslow said, “When you’re talking in person and someone asks you a question, you’d never, just simply, not respond.” Even though there are multiple reasons for no response back, maybe they were busy or didn’t realized they opened it, it still brings about miscommunication due to the lack of communication.