Friday, May 02, 2008

Electronic communication

What we now call snail mail must itself have been a revolution in its day. Instead of having to visit someone who was possibly in a different country, one could communicate by sending them a letter.

These days, I think it's amazing how quickly one can communicate in written words using email and txt msgs. With smart-phones and PDAs, as long as there's a decent mobile phone connection one can send and receive both email and txt msgs everywhere. But is electronic communication overused? For example, in an office environment some people will send emails to people sitting next to them, rather than talking to them face to face. Is that too geeky?

One advantage of written communication is that one can carefully craft one's words so as to convey one's exact meaning, whereas with verbal communication it's easier to accidentally say the wrong thing. I think that was always true, but now email and txt msgs make written communication so much faster than it used to be, I feel electronic communication can be preferable to verbal communication. Certainly when faced with the prospect of a telephone conversation or sending an email, email has some distinct advantages, for example one never has to worry about a bad mobile phone connection making it hard to understand what's being said. Electronic communication is also less intrusive because a phone call demands immediate attention, whereas emails and txt msgs can be answered at leisure. With email one can also say the same thing to many people simultaneously, whereas organising a meeting to make the same thing possible verbally can be difficult or even impossible, with the Cc versus the Bcc field in email headers providing a further level of sophistication.

The reason that these thoughts are in my mind at the moment is that myself and boyfriend P communicate a lot with emails because we life in different countries. Recently, we discussed the direction that our relationship is headed in and whether it has a future, all by email. These are very difficult subjects where face to face communication can be hard, because one really doesn't want to say the wrong thing accidentally. Perhaps because we feel at home with email, having these discussions electronically is much easier for both of us. But again, is having deep meaningful conversations by email a bit geeky?

The fact is, digital technology in many forms is gradually extending its reach further and further into our everyday lives. Geeky behaviour is probably on the increase in all walks of life. When I think about this, I generally reach the conclusion that eventually the human race will evolve into something like the Borg from Star-Trek. All we need is an electronic interface to our brains so we can access the Internet and email just by thinking about it and we we're pretty much there, because the Internet is already all around us in the mobile phone networks. I don't necessarily think that it would be a bad thing either, with one proviso. If I'm going to become a Borg, I just hope that I manage to have better dress sense!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can you have a internet relationship, its just not the same. That is just odd. In that case, i don't know how you can call him your boyfriend, because it does not seem like a serious relationship.

Hedgie said...

Assimilate - Assimilate - !

The internet is completely amazing and the revolution has probably some distance yet to go. But back in Victorian days, they had several postal deliveries a day - a letter could cross London and be delivered in a few hours. So although still low-tech and 'snail' it was a lot more like today's email than our postal service is.

GB said...

Boyfriend P is a boyfriend, Anonymous (whoever you are), because we see each other whenever we can and communicate by phone and email etc at other times! For example last January when we went to South America together :-).

GB xxx

Ky said...
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GB said...

What you say about Victorian post Hedgie is fascinating :-). And like me, I guess you're a bit of a trekkie if you're keen on Borg assimilation!

Do you really think that story about regrowing a finger tip is true Ky? If so, it's pretty amazing. But you know my mind, I'm wondering things like whether a cut guy grow back his foreskin, and other similarly dark thoughts!

GB xxx

Ky said...
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GB said...

Actually Ky, I didn't realise that there was going to be a new Star Trek movie until your comment! The current trailer doesn't give much away, and the only name I recognised was Leonard Nimoy! For what it's worth, I always thought that the series Star Trek Voyager was the best one, the story lines were amazingly ingenious and complex.

GB xxx

Ky said...
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Superchilled said...

I have to say, while I love electronic communication for all it's rapidity and convenience, I think written communication is much more readily misinterpreted than the spoken word. There are all kinds of non verbal cues that you just don't see in writing that can completely change the meaning of a conversation. Often the misunderstanding in written communication takes a lot longer to correct as well. So if there's something deep and meaningful - I say do it live face to face, or at the least on the phone.

Anonymous said...

interesting, whats wierd is my best friend has had a relationship through email, skype, and aim. The relationship was serious too, and when they both decided that it just would'nt work out, she was heartbroken. I hope it all works out for you.

Sir Wobin said...

What about the great progress with video calling. It's within reach of everyone with Internet access given the reach of Skype and ichat. The visual clues which Superchilled talks about are all there, it's immediate, verbal, visual and digital. It also let's those with a rentboy fetish, parade themselves for cash from the comfort of their homes. ;-)

GB said...

Actually Ky, my boyfriend P isn't that kind of Asian guy, but I do know some Asian guys who are like that!

I agree Superchilled, especially when messages are written in haste, or if either of the people involved aren't used to electronic communiation. With myself and boyfriend P, I think it works quite well though, because we do both take care when there are important things to say. Sometimes on the phone we'll both be eager to say something and start talking at the same time, so for us electronic communication is probably better than phone calls!

Sounds like you've got a lot of experience using webcam's from the comfort of your own home Sir Wobin :-)! But why haven't we read about that in your blog?

GB xxx

Steve said...

I have to lend some weight to what you're saying. My best friend in the world is a guy I met in Australia - I'm in the UK. I hesitate to say boyfriend, although the relationship is sexual and we have a real world face to face relationship when we can manage the travel, but communicate mostly by instant messaging, just about daily, and by email.

We know each other well by now, in fact we clicked instantly when we first met. What I wanted to add is that because we know each other so well, we can discuss really complex and emotional stuff and fill in the blanks of what the other person is thinking. I can't really explain how that works, and most of my friends think I'm nuts. ...but I can tell from the written words if he's up, down, upset, needs a virtual long-distance hug - all of those things, and they don't really come from the written words.

By the way, I too have a full time boyfriend who I live with. I think it is totally possible to have a relationship with someone who lives 10,500 miles away.