Back before PC’s and spell check, communicating via the written word was a lot harder. You had to think about what you wanted to say before typing – most likely writing several drafts by hand before typing the final. And type carefully to avoid showing your errors. With PC’s and spell check came writing and editing on the fly. No longer do we need to write it out by hand. We can just write, spell check and print.
With email, no longer do we need to even call people. We can just shoot off a few messages, not worrying too much about what we said and move on. Email let us hide behind our words. But it also removed tone of voice. It’s now easy to misread a message because we can’t hear their emphasis. It’s also easy to be not so nice when we want to. The flip side of course, is that emails are fairly permanent and trackable.
Instant messaging puts us into warp speed where we don’t even need to use whole words or real words when writing your bff imho btw.
The point here is that as we increase the speed at which we can write, print and send messages and documents to people, the less effort, energy and thought goes into what we say – and how we say it. No longer do we contemplate are message and tone. No longer do we edit (much). That’s good and bad. The good is that we can communicate more thoughts – a stream of consciousness as it comes to us. We can be unfiltered and spontaneous, which can yield valuable insights. That’s the danger too – it’s easy not to express clear thoughts, or to be sloppy and unfiltered. It’s easy to send something you wouldn’t have sent in the old write ‘n type days.
We’re also overloaded with messages and information threatening to takeover our day. Don’t let it. Take time once in awhile to communicate thoughts that matter. To put a little craft into what you write. Think too about sending a hand-written note to show you REALLY do care about what you’re saying.
As a fun exercise, write out your next message before typing it. Then do another on the fly. Look at the difference in their tone, style and clarity. You might be surprised at how different the process feels – and how it makes you think.