Methods of Communication

Do you prefer to talk, text message, or a different communication method?

Would it be a cop-out to say that it depends on the situation? Because, truly, it does. There are some things for which talking face-to-face is just absolutely essential — things that will likely involve crying and thus need hugs, trying to have a serious discussion, trying to work something out, asking important questions. And, just in general, talking is fantastic. Being able to see people, and hear their voices, and read their body language, and give them hugs — there’s no substitute. Obviously, though, it isn’t always possible to talk to people in person, so second-best methods of communication need to be used.

But sometimes, those other methods aren’t second-best. Sometimes, I like emails better than talking in person. . . . Well, no, not really better, but sometimes it works better. There’s more time for me to gather my thoughts and express what I’m actually trying to say. There’s less pressure for me to know what I want to say at that moment in time. Plus, it’s a whole lot easier for me to remember what was said — my memory of actual conversations can get very fuzzy at times, so when it’s important (or when it feels important to me), it’s really nice to be able to look up an email and see exactly what someone had to say, in their own words.

Of course, I suppose it partly depends on what type of emails are being exchanging. I have the ability (could be a talent, could be a weakness — depends on who you’re asking) to write almost exactly as I actually speak and think: it can make for particularly interesting emails (and by that I partly mean ones that are not entirely coherent and extremely stream-of-consciousness). As much as those emails are a bit of a mess, though, I think there’s something genuine and honest in that — sure, I could edit them and keep them properly written (and I do when the situation calls for it, jobs and whatnot), but then they lose something of their authenticity and become another way to hide, another façade to keep people at a distance. They becomes more like a speech I’ve rehearsed than a real conversation.

I also like talking on the phone. . . sometimes, kind of. I used to be a little scared of it, actually — all of those awkward silences if you can’t think of anything to say. Plus, I hate the idea of bothering someone — it’s one of the reasons why I like emails so much: people can respond to them in their own time. Texts (which I’ve come to rather late, sometime partway through college) are fantastic. There’s not necessarily a lot of personality to them, but for simple exchanges of information (“we’re here,” “where’re we meeting?” and the like), they’re great. And with more sophisticated phones, you can have almost-conversations on them (not so much on the phone I had before my current one — it only stored a hundred texts, and it didn’t sort by the person with whom I was conversing).

I really do think, though, that pretty much every method of communication has its own way to shine. Real letters, for example — there’s just something really special about them. Emails are better for quick correspondence, but letters are solid and lasting and feel so real.

Even unconventional ways of communicating can have their own purposes.  In that one scene with Keira Knightley in Love Actually, if he had sent her an email, or just told her, it wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact as the cue cards. It’s a great example of how the way you express something makes a difference. Are cue cards going to be the best way to communicate everything? No. But for that moment, they were perfect.

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