Communication in the modern day

The phone rings and your heart skips a beat. Your eyes dart towards the vibrating coming from the top of your desk. You reach out and grab it, pausing to see the caller. “NO CALLER ID.” Who is it, you wonder? Telemarketer? A friend in trouble? Someone calling to tell you that you are the winner of a competition? You decline the call after what seems like hours. As your heart rate begins to return to normal, a text message pops up; “Hi, this is James from World Vision. Just wanting to see if you would be keen to donate? Give me a call when you get a chance.” Without batting an eyelid, you throw it into the “something that can wait for now” basket.

This situation raises a couple of questions, though. Where does the fear of answering the phone come from? Is it warranted? Secondly, what differs from a text message that makes it so much easier to handle mentally? There are pros and cons for both voice messaging and text messaging, but perhaps there is a tendency to lean towards one or the other depending on the situation. With the growing influence of social media and the many other uses that phones are becoming capable of, what can we expect for the future of communication?

Text messaging is useful for its casual nature—there is no pressure to reply instantly or read straight away. Receiving or sending a text message is something that can be completed and then put down. The information is stored in one place and can be easily looked back upon. On top of the ease of use, text messaging now incorporates a lot of additional features. Sending pictures or videos along with messages is a popular way to stay in touch with friends and family, and share things of interest. While this could arguably fall into a voice messaging category, sending picture messages and video messages is more commonly found associated with text messaging. On top of this, modern-day social media users blend all of these forms of contact into a mass of tangled and broken conversations taking place with multiple people across a number of social media platforms.

One of the downsides of text messaging is that although texts can be written clearly, there is room for the misunderstanding of meaning or tone. The fabled: “Okay,” text message. On the one hand, it could literally mean something is okay, or it could have a much more sinister implied meaning. “Okay,” could mean “I can’t believe that you had the nerve to eat the last chocolate bar from the pantry—you’re dead to me.” It could also mean; “Of course I am not okay, the facts are all in front of you and you just need to piece them together, obviously.” The idea of tone and meaning is something that translates better in voice messaging, as you can hear and gauge one’s voice. In summary, text messaging has a lot of uses; it is fast, reliable, informative, and casual. However, there are situations in which voice messaging trumps text messaging.

Voice messaging can often seem a lot scarier than text messaging. For someone who isn’t used to it, the thought of hearing your own voice recordings, or having to make quick-fire answers can be daunting. However, it is more personal and more natural to interpret. Not only this, but things such as video calling make voice messaging a very personal experience. Nowadays, calling someone usually means business. If someone is calling you, it generally implies that they are after something right away, or have something serious to discuss—something that can’t be jotted down into a text message. “Why aren’t you responding to my text messages?” is often a prime candidate for voice calling. The idea of having to call to communicate is something that younger generations are not as used to—something that still makes a lot of people nervous. For many people, receiving or initiating a voice message brings an actual psychological discomfort. However, aside from the intimidation of picking up the phone, voice messaging has unlocked incredible opportunities to communicate with loved ones around the world. One can call a friend or family member abroad and hear their voice instantly—maybe even see their face through video messaging. The possibilities of communication are virtually endless, something that will only continue to develop as technology improves. The authenticity of voice messaging, despite it being labelled as archaic sometimes, is the best way to communicate purposefully and have the nearest thing to face-to-face communication with another human as possible.

As we move into an age where technology dominates most industries in addition to everyday life, it will be interesting to see how communication develops. Personal preference often dictates this battle; some people will stick away from voice messaging, while others may encourage it wherever possible. As mentioned earlier, modern day communication is often an amalgamation of all of the possible ways of talking to someone rolled into one. While there are practical uses for both text messaging and voice messaging in different situations, it seems as though communication is heading towards being “instant, and satisfying,” something that picture messaging, or video messaging may be prime. However, as technology develops, so too does our ability to utilise it to send cat pictures, or prank call our friends. Who knows what communication will look like in 50 years? Direct brain-to-brain thought connections, perhaps?