Lost in Translation

Remember back when? You know, when you needed to talk to someone, whether it was your best friend, mom or co-worker you would just dial them up and you could have an interactive conversation that was actually (gasp) double-sided? Well, in today’s modern society I have witnessed and unfortunately participated in what I like to call the “dumbing down of communication” – e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and text messaging via cell phones. Let’s face it. As a society, technology has lowered the bar in terms of quality communication, enabling us to send a quick message without any sort of real interaction with each other.

While this is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, I have come to the realization that in recent years, even more so months, that communication is not what it used to be. Years ago if I wanted to get in touch witha friend, I would simply give him a ring, which resulted in an enjoyable conversation that was both interesting, interactive and most importantly, double-sided.

Nowadays, there are more single-sided ways of communication. If I want to see what’s going on with my friend, all I do (most of the time) is e-mail him, instant message him online or send him a text message through my phone. The problem with this is two primary things. The first of which is that my friend does not receive any sort of context or emotion attached to my message. He may, depending on the way I write it, figure something is up, but at this point there is no way for him to tell. The reason why he cannot dissect this message correctly is that within the message itself there is something lost in the translation of this message. He does not get the full spectrum as if I simply were to speak with him.

Another issue with this “getting lost int he translation” idea is that not only can the message not sound important, but it could actually sound much worse than it was. You could actually be texting just a simple “thank you,” and the receiver could interpret this message, thinking that you are being sarcastic and you do not care about the favor the persond did for you, which leads to an argument – something that would not happen had it been a phone conversation.

The second issue I have with thiis strategy of communication is that it is lazy. SImply messaging someone can take as little as 30 seconds, as opposed to a conversation that could last minutes on end, if not an hour or so. And because it is lazy it lowers the importance of the message on the end of the receiver. He figures that “Ok, he just wants to know how I am, so I’ll message him later.” And so by this example, while I was lazy in sending it, it yields my friend, the receiver, to be lazy in returning the message.

While I’m on the subject of laziness, these messages are not like letters of years and years ago like if a woman’s husband is in the war and he’s sending her a letter. Nope, because letters like these actually had some type of writing technique to them. E-mails, and more commonly instant/text messaging, oftentimes use phrases and abbreviations that would have an English teacher wanting to blow his brains out; here is an example of just what would lead to that: “R u going 2 the concert 2night?” Somebody shoot me. To substitute an “R” innstead of the word “are” is just plain lazy, silly and absurd.

Now, I am not going to lie. I do use email, instant/text messaging. However, I do find these outlets of communication are seriously “dumbing down” our society. In utilizing these technologies we are less social as a civilization than we used to be, and I think that needs to change. We can use these technologies. I’m not saying they’re bad; I’m just saying that we use them too often and that there are many times in which we do not need to use them. If we are in a rush and we just need a basic answer, these are great ways of communication; however, if we need a more in-depth answer and a discussion, these means of communication are worthless and do not accomplish anything. We need to have real discussions with people, not lazy ones.

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