Communications Technology Vs. Relating


Communications Technology Vs. Relating
Communications technology is supposed to bring us closer together. Are we relating more or less?

Communication is supposed to be helped by technology, right? We're available 24/7 now, through cell phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. We may be communicating, but are we relating? Is a Facebook friend really a friend? Is the first time you tell the person you're dating that you love them in a text? I know couples who have fights because one wasn't effusive enough about the other on Facebook.

What about talking?! You talk; I listen; I talk; you listen. And a whole conversation happens, instead of a monologue with no visual or vocal clues—but lots of room for misunderstanding! As any actor or director will tell you, there are many ways to read the same line. The more remote the form of communication, the more likely it is that the words will be misinterpreted or that fantasy will intrude.


For example, if you want to do online dating, I suggest you communicate online just long enough to comfortably get the person's phone number and talk on the phone just long enough to comfortably set up a meeting in a public space, and then the dating begins. This strategy of quickly moving from remote communication to in-person relating avoids too much build-up of fantasy, wherein you believe you've found your true love without having yet met him or her!

The way someone seems in written communication or even over the phone can be quite different than how they actually relate in person on a day-to-day basis. Some people are terse communicators in writing, but warm in person. Some people are short over the phone, but lovely in person. I have a wonderful doctor—smart, caring, funny, warm—but you would never know it from his phone presence. I don't think he's ever said "Goodbye" before hanging up in twenty years. And I have a good friend who's similar on phone calls, but she's great to talk with in person. Others are wonderfully warm communicators with the remoteness of texts and emails, but are unable to relate well in person.

This brings to mind Ranier Maria Rilke (1875-1926), who wrote the following poem:


Love Song

How should I keep my soul
from touching yours? How should I
lift it beyond you toward other things?
Ah, I would gladly shelter it
in darkness with some lost thing,
on some remote unsounding place
that doesn't tremble, when your depths stir.
Yet everything that touches you or me
takes us together like a bow's stroke
that from two strings draws one voice.
Across what instrument are we stretched?
And what player holds us in his hand?
O sweet song.


This article was originally published at Diane Spear. Reprinted with permission.
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