Becoming Professional: A Blog

To Talk or Type?

Posted on: July 4, 2011

Two people (cartoons) with twitter and other icons in speach bubbles

by khalid Albaih on Flickr

Do you get the feeling that you don’t actually talk to people anymore? I do, sometimes. From conversations with family to chats with friends or coworkers, I tend to type my messages rather than just pick up a phone. Even when I’m not in front of a computer, I SMS, BBM, or type a straight up e-mail rather than call. All of those on my phone, of course, an item once thought of as a device to facilitate speech.

skype logo

by la cueva del escorpion on Flickr

I tell myself that I ping people before calling because I don’t want to interrupt them. After all, particularly at work, they are busily concentrating on other problems. But I also do this with my family. Though I live across an ocean from my brother, I can easily call him. He has a Skype phone. That said, I tend to text him, right within the Skype application. He’s not busy. I’m not terribly busy. We could talk. But we don’t. We text. Hell, I’ve done this with my brother when he was just sitting on the other side of the couch from me. Reason we gave? My mother was between us and it was just easier to type than lean forward. Even at the time I thought it was a lame excuse.

This goes on more than I like to admit. More than I like to think about, actually. Virtual interaction is, indeed, with real people. I firmly believe that people are people, even if I only know them by a Twitter handle, so my friendships with them are just as strong as with people I have met in real life in similar circumstance, say at a networking event.

shirt that says multitasking kills

by Daquella manera on Flickr

But what does it say about our culture that there are individuals who prefer to text or IM than use a free program like Skype that allows both voice and image? With a text only interaction, we can multi-task. When a person is in front of us, even as a video image via Skype, we have to pay attention or risk being rude. It means we can’t multi-task. We have to narrow our field of focus to the individual in front of us. Pay attention to someone else. People are now so used to multi-tasking that they are not ready and willing to devote the necessary attention to the person in front of them, or to welcome that kind of singular interaction. Yes, sometimes we’re working, but couldn’t we continue the work after the talk? Or answer the phone with a smile, explain the situation, and call back later? That’s what people used to do.

I don’t think that we are becoming only virtual. People still like to go out together, do things together. That’s why they’ll download music illegally but pay a premium to go out to a concert with friends. But the fact that when we have the option and opportunity to go for a face-to-face interaction we opt for text is a bit worrying.

What is your experience?


4 Responses to "To Talk or Type?"

I think there needs to be a balance between talk and type. The majority of my family and friends live in other states and sometimes it is nice to pick up the phone and just talk to each other. I have noticed some people are just plain akward when having to talk – face-to-face or over the phone. I am on the phone six hours a day at work and sometimes just need a break from the phone in the evening. I do not care for a manager or supervisor who types instead of talks when there is an issue that needs to be addressed – you feel like both sides are not being heard in this method and the worst is when miscommunication happens and it just gets more blown out of proportation – not good at all. Great post and really made me think about how I communicate with other people.

Good points, Renee. I think that there is a time and a place for talking versus other means of communication, but face-to-face is one of our richest forms of communication. Sometimes that richness is absolutely necessary!

Great Post. but more to the point, I think in large part that Renee is right; but its not just affecting the professional lives of people as there is bleed over. There has become a whole new set of rules when courting the opposite sex that are trying to deal with the text addicticed society. Personally, I am oldschool (Loosely defined in this case) because an automatic disqualifier is if someone gets back to my calls with a “Friendly Text”. it does not matter if that person was interested and just did not have the time at the moment. The excuse is not valid as many of us would be willing to wait for actual voice interaction. Its a lot more personal. remember that Youtube hit “Text Message Breakup”? not to say that I am not guilty of this (I was Young, Nieve, not nearly the gentleman I am now, Please don’t stone me) but the impersonal nature of texting has allowed our society to unplug imotionally as it were. Its Impersonal to shoot a text out to someone. The concept that a Picture is worth 1000 words comes to mind… A Text is simply maybe a fraction of this. You are not able to comvey inflection or tone with a brief “Hay, Hows your Mother”.
Ofcourse, its funny that we are discussing this via actual text. an OxyMoron as it were. Ask yourself what type of person you are when your posting on a forum vs. who you actually are in a debate.

I have to call my Parents because they are not as dept with the new phone tech… But in a way I see this as more a plus for them rather than a detraction; Think about it, My interaction with them is always at the minimal personal on levels that a few words can’t touch, and that is the only interaction that I can have with them out of Respect… They control the venue in this example, and I think they choose right. Ignurance in this situation is Bliss. Because I don’t care who you are, and how flowery your Prose, the Phrase “I Love You” is not nearly as potent written as it is spoken. with that, Kate, you said it right when you said its worrying… Heres to the Oldschool

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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