Imagine this: It’s last night… 7:34pm. You’re holding onto your smartphone. You look down and see only one bar. But you go for it anyway…
“I can barely hear you.”
“We just landed.”
“Jus w ntd you kno tha I can’t m do mak ak fo bap rit.
…I’ll tell you more later.”
Deep down, we all know the wonders of technology are only as good as the weakest link.
Welcome to the World of Words
Still, smartphones connect us in ways unimaginable only a few years back.
That you can talk with and sometimes see your loved ones from almost anywhere is two parsecs shy of science fiction. And now, with the prospect of augmented reality becoming a regular part of the user experience… that’s mind blowing.
So, it’s ironic that email and especially texting continue to maintain their dominant roles during smartphone use. As a result, the near lost art of writing has experienced an amazing renaissance.
In fact, it’s absolutely the new normal.
I know that so many of you would regularly pass on the rigors of a phone call when you can ‘more easily’ text someone.
I don’t mean to generalize, but younger folks don’t dig talking on the phone so much.
That’s so weird.
Aren’t we genetically wired to communicated via voice?
Of course, I love the art of the phone call. It provides plenty of emotional context, which is absent throughout the act of texting.
(Though using emojis does help.)
And think of all that incessant back and forth of an email chain, often over the course of hours or days. A 30-second phone call would get the same results.
And remember, your highly-evolved smartphone is not as limited as your grandfather’s Ma Bell indestructible monster. With mobile video enabled technologies like Skype and Apple’s FaceTime, you can enjoy the purity of non-verbal communication cues to help you stay totally in sync with your phone buddy. It’s almost like being in the same room.
Why wouldn’t you want to reach out and touch someone?
Well, there’s one problem…
What Did You Just Say?
If you don’t have access to a strong connection, the value proposition of a phone call falls apart pretty quickly…
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how frustrating it is having a conversation with someone on a spotty cell connection.
Understanding one out of every three words just doesn’t cut it.
And adding video into the equation is immediately hopeless.
You get the first video frame or two, and that’s about it.
Then the call crashes.
Conversely, getting a simple text out into the ether over a mediocre connection feels downright glorious.
Keep it simple. Get it done.
The pleasantries can wait till next time…
The Frustration-Free Moment
Our nationwide cellular networks still have their holes, even in metropolitan areas.
And calling from inside thick tall buildings or moving metal cars doesn’t help much.
The truth is…
Smartphones can’t yet mimic the magic of a Starfleet communicator on the prescient ‘Star Trek.’
(You can’t really have a crystal clear conversation from inside a Horta’s cave with your starship in standard orbit above Janus IV.)
There are limits…
Texting is Bulletproof
So maybe millennials are onto something. Maybe this explosion of texting is not about shunning basic human interaction.
(Though I think that’s a part of it.)
It’s about efficiency.
Transferring simple words in easily-sent data packets.
And if there’s a sliver of a bar of coverage… the text will probably get through.
What’s so bad with that?
Just the Facts, Ma’am!
So, as much as I still love making an old-fashioned phone call, I’ve got to admit that when you’re on the go, texting is the clear leader for straightforward communication.
(As long as you’re not driving!)
When you just care about getting the facts across, it takes all the frustration out of the equation.
Sure… you’ll lose all the personal touches of a phone conversation.
But how hard is it to interpret a smiley face emoji?
The truth is… these days, I text all of the time.
And sometimes… do I prefer sending a text rather than having to spend a few minutes on the phone with someone?
My Mind to Your Mind
There’s no foolproof way to ensure 100% accuracy when communicating with someone from any distance beyond 4-6 feet.
(And even that’s not always perfect)
But it’s ironic that in a world overflowing with communications technologies, we often feel more disconnected than ever.
The power of those little, silent digital words can only accomplish so much.
Until we master the Vulcan Mind Meld, we’ll have to struggle along as best we can.