Isn’t it remarkable that I can Skype my parents who are 12,000 miles away and living ten hours in the past, and yet I am incapable of communicating even the simplest of things to my boyfriend? Last week for example, I was tired and hormonal and in general on the warpath, so I picked a half-hearted argument with him. Soon enough, I was storming off and ringing my dad (twelve thousand miles away) to moan about what a monstrous tyrant he is. It’s worth mentioning that storming out of buildings in the heat of the moment is never a good idea – I was left sitting on a bench in Auckland’s CBD at eleven-o’clock at night, wearing mismatching shoes. Had I not been so angry I might have noticed that red and black are completely different colours. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the next day that things got really nasty. All via text. So nasty was the content that it go to a point where neither of us finished our messages with a kiss – always the sign of a relationship meltdown.
The problem with arguing by text is that it is a completely useless form of communication. Nothing can be conveyed accurately through ‘angry faces’ and WTFs. Communication needs clarity and body language and emotion to really be successful. Consequently we completely got our wires crossed and by the end of our three-hour text fight, he was convinced we were on a break and I was certain he was sleeping with a girl he works with. Neither was true and the only resolution to the argument was to have a blow-out when we both got home, which deemed the previous argument by text a complete waste of time and energy. And Vodafone charges. My point is, that sometimes in a world that has so many means of communication, in can often feels like we don’t communicate at all.
Even relationships with my friends break down when I have too much access to alternative communication methods. Who needs to physically chat when Facebook is on my homepage? It almost seems too easy – we take things so much for granted, we never think what would happen if we didn’t have all these tools to communicate with one another. Imagine a world with no emails, Facebook, text messaging or Skype calls? My God, I’d actually have to go and visit my friends just to find out what they were doing! In recent years I’ve stopped enquiring about other people as much because I naturally presume all the information I need to know is delivered straight to my inbox via a Facebook update. But what about all the things people don’t publicly communicate? Would I know if my friend was desperately unhappy if she hid her emotions behind a status update telling me was ‘totes excited right now… LOL’ plus smiley face.
Oddly, since I have been in New Zealand, four of my closest friends have also been living the dream in Australia. We’ve Skyped a few times, but mostly we’ve been writing letters to one another. Yes, you read that right, letters. We’ve actually reverted to ye olde snail trail rather than face-to-face video chat via an online forum. It’s vintage communication methods for uber-cool hipsters! This may be the next big thing, because believe you me, there’s something bizarrely exciting about receiving a letter in the post. It’s nostalgic and whimsical and it feels personal. Texting is without a doubt on the cusp of being boring. Who wants a predictable smiley face formed from semi- colons and end brackets when you can have a letter written on fancy writing paper and sealed with a wax stamp?
Another problem I am regularly facing when dealing with over-communication, is the effect is has on the quality of my conversations. In fact, excess communication has actively contributed to my dwindling lack of communication; throughout the day I am in constant contact with my boyfriend. If something makes me laugh, I text him the anecdote; if a work colleague winds me up, I vent my anger via a catty email, if someone tells me of Coldplay’s upcoming world tour, I can go online, book the tickets and forward them straight to his inbox in less than ten minutes. So what to do when I finally get home and see him face-to-face? Tell him about my day? He already knows all about it, right down to knowing what time to expect me back because only five minutes earlier, I’ve text him saying ‘I’m five minutes away’. A wealth of communication is making me boring. My conversations are boring. They are merely repeat episodes of things I have already digitally transmitted hours earlier.
How very ironic then that in a world where communication has been developed to such a sophisticated level, we’ve all become dull and struggle to convey even the most basic of messages successfully? How long until we’re all grunting again and acting like Neanderthals but with fancy devices? Will relationships continue to fracture because we are no longer conveying the most simple of messages? Will my boyfriend only know I love him because I send him an app that tells him so? Who knows, I guess I’ll find out via Twitter.