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Texting, Email or Telephone?

Which of these is better?

I’m not sure that is the right question. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages. Are they not just different forms of communication and we should welcome them all.

For instance who would deny that a telephone call is more personal – you get to hear the person’s voice. However, if it is a stranger that calls then that benefit is greatly reduced. If the call comes at an inconvenient time then it may even start to associate a person’s voice with the inconvenience and have the reverse effect to that desired “it’s better to pick up the phone and call” claim that is so often made.

In a world where everything happens to us at a breakneck speed these days and where nearly everyone I know is on a different schedule to me there is great benefit in email and text. I find it increasingly rare that a telephone call comes at a convenient time and with my mind on something else it is often difficult to give a good answer to anyone who calls with questions.

Perhaps this is why the statistics tell us that more recent generations favour texting and email over the phone call – by quite a margin. Is there something old-fashioned in the insistence that a phone call is best? Is it disrespectful to younger generations to make that claim?

Now perhaps you can get something from a phone call you can’t get from someone’s writing. There is the subtle inflections in a voice that can help but I have to admit that I sometimes misunderstand those clues in a persons voice and I’ve found myself misunderstanding phone calls at times. It is also true that sometimes writing is better for helping understanding. The claim that writing is more obscure does not always stand up – although there are some folk who find it really hard to express anything in writing. You get the chance to think about your answers in a text or email – on a phone call you don’t.

Email might be preferred because we can write longer sentences but then again we usually expect email and texts to perform different tasks. There are those who insist on writing long texts – even though they are more awkward to use. There is also a difference, of course, regarding whether you are on a computer or a phone as to which is easiest to use. Email is usually better for sending attachments or for finding later (in my experience).

I think in the end we have to accept that these are just different ways of communicating and it is a mistake to claim one is better than another. It is perfectly possible to have a relationship by text and email. It is also good to hear a person you love voice from time to time but not essential to a relationship.

I’ve avoided ZOOM and Skype talk but they are also ways we can communicate – usually pre-arranged and so avoiding the awkwardness of a ill-timed phone call.

However, meeting with people in person has to rank at the top for being in a relationship. These other forms of communication work but there is no real substitute to meeting with someone face to face and in person.

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