Digital age has bred many lazy, rushed communicators
We have become lazy communicators, and technology, I think, is to blame. We have become so lethargic in how we express ourselves that even when our intention is to convey empathy or console those grieving, we end up offending them instead.
You’re probably wondering what I am going on about. I am talking about those annoying emojis that we use with abandon, and which have taken the place of words. How many times has a friend, relative, or acquaintance broken sad news on a WhatsApp or Telegram group you are in, say news of their parent’s or child’s death, only for you, or several of you in the group, to respond to the devastating news with a crying, tearful or shocked emoji? A yellow-faced comical face that will never look sad in spite of the waterfall of tears it seems to be shedding.
What happened to the good old-fashioned phone call or personal heart-felt message directly sent to the grieving person? One that conveyed genuine empathy? Instead, we send a message intended for one to a multitude, which, if you asked me, makes it just another impersonal forward.
Could it be that the convenience and instant nature of technology has robbed us of our humane side; the sensitive and thoughtful part of us that responds to common sense?
Anyway, there is nothing that irritates me more than when someone decides to use those cartoonish faces to respond or contribute to an important discussion.
All it achieves to do is rubbish and water down the seriousness of the discussion.
As a rule, when a friend in a social group I am in posts saddening news, such as the death of a loved one, or sickness in the family, or any other distressing news, I don’t offer my condolences or commiserate with them in the group. It just feels so impersonal.
I either send them a direct message that only they can read, or spare a minute to call them. Before you scroll through your extensive library of emojis to choose one that supposedly conveys your shock, sadness and dismay, perhaps you may want to ask yourself whether this is the kind of response that would offer the comfort you crave for in your time of sorrow.
Since we’re talking communication, I might as well talk about a pet peeve — the habit of unnecessarily shortening words and creating abbreviations that don’t exist. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving an email or text message that you cannot decipher, forcing you to email or text back the sender asking for clarification.
Unfortunately, I get many of these, sometimes from people who are communicating with me for the first time; a majority of them students in college or university asking how they can get to write for, or get an internship with, the Nation.
If you are not patient enough to key in the word “between” and instead spell it as “btwn” or if you’re too busy to actually spell the word “and”, which is composed of just three letters, and use “&” instead, pray, how will you manage to write a 2,500-word feature?
Such shortcuts, if you were to ask those in this profession, convey a lazy and careless personality, one that cannot be trusted to deliver. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if you don’t get that writing gig or internship, or a reply to your lazy email.