The lack of emotion in text based language exchange: Are we creating a whole new set of problems?

Communication is not just about words. With the advance of mobile devices, social media and the proliferation of text based language exchange are we losing the personal touch necessary to convey emotions and in-turn develop emotional attachment? I recently read an article that stated that 99% of North Americans now own a cellphone and that 81% use their phone to exchange text messages and send email. In a non-related but similar study data consumption amongst cell phone users increased in 2012 by 63% while voice calling declined by 13%. This decline in voice-to-voice communication shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially in Canada. Canadians pay some of the highest mobile phone service rates in the developed world. Text based language exchange provides a cost effective and popular alternative to expensive voice calling. Most companies now offer affordable nationwide texting packages while continuing to charge exorbitant rates for long distance calls. Texting helps to cut down on those big cell phone bills and our smart phones give us ubiquitous access to our emails and social networks while we’re on-the-go. However, despite being cost effective and convenient is this new trend in communication costing us emotionally?

It is virtually impossible to convey emotion through text based language exchange. Although we have developed emoti-cons and symbols to convey emotion along with our texts can they ever truly replace a hug, or the sound of another voice for that matter? How often have you wondered if your friend actually “lol’d”? Are we really rolling-on-the-floor-laughing? Acronyms and internet lingo have been developed as a band-aid solution to the lack of emotional context in text based language exchange.

Parenting expert and paediatric nurse Denise Daniels describes email and text based language exchange as “lacking the emotional qualities of face-to-face interaction”. Essentially, it is impossible to provide a text based substitute for emotion. Critical communication factors such as voice inflections, sarcasm and body language are all lost when we substitute text based language exchange for face to face interaction. I for one am taking a personal stance against solely using text based language exchange. I have been making more of an effort to reach out to my friends using voice calls, I’m attempting to make more face time for friends while limiting my use of social networks. Especially on my mobile devices. I hope that others will follow this trend or at least begin to steer away from the pitfalls of relying only on using text based communication.

Leave a comment