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Where Are You?

September 19, 2011

About four years ago I joined the texting world.  And although I had a cell phone for some ten years before this, I only used it as to make phone calls.  Over the last four years however (and I am actually embarrassed to admit this), it has become my primary means of communication.  As most you know from my previous post, there are certain boundaries and texting manners that I adhere to, but for the most part texting is a constant part of my everyday life.  It’s actually quite ironic considering my degree is in communication and that I will spend the next twenty years of my life teaching people how to VERBALLY communicate effectively.

Just as I am admitting that I am guilty of punting the traditional telephone conversation out of my life, I am perplexed by the unrealistic expectations that we (as a general population) give to text messaging.  What leaves me the most puzzled in all of this is how we can read a simple sentence and imply our own interpretations to the words (via our semantic triangle) and assume that our interpretation is exactly what the author intended.

Take the sentence, “Where are you?” for example.  These three simple words take on the most complex meaning when there is a complete lack of inflection.  “Where are you?” could be a simple statement of curiosity.  Or perhaps, you are meeting someone for lunch and you are running a few minutes behind.  In this situation, this simple sentence could mean, tell where you are or it could mean I am frustrated because you are late and I have no idea where you are.  In more extreme cases it could even mean “Where (explicative) are you?” The fact that this list could go on and on, is exactly my point, so today, I ask you this my friends…What is your story?  Tell us a time when you misinterpreted a text (or e-mail if you don’t text), and how it would have been completely different had you been in an actual conversation and heard the person’s tone of voice.

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10 comments

  1. This reminds me of a show I recently saw on MTV about people texting. They actually have a competition for the fastest texter


    • I looked through the program guide so that I could check it out, but I couldn’t find it. Do you think it was a one time show or a series? Do you remember the name of it, because I would love to watch it. Sounds like a blog topic to me.


  2. It happens quite often to most people. Usually when I’m upset or aggravated, or if someone I’m texting with is, the way they use certain words to formulate there texts can come off completely wrong. I tend to be more articulate in my texts when I’m irritated or upset, and it can come off somewhat mean if I’m not careful. Texting language is completely different than when you are having an actual oral conversation with someone, so you have to be careful with the way that you word things.


    • Interesting enough for me, it’s when I am irritated or upset that I seem to let all my inhibitions go. If I am texting someone about casual business of the day I seem to put much greater care and thought into my actual words. However, if I am frustrated with my mom, my spouse or my children, I tend to be short, which inevitably comes out as RUDE.


  3. I am so glad I am not the only one who has trouble understanding texts. My husband and I get into arguments frequently because we do not understand what the other meant when a text was sent. Although texting, is easier and quicker for the sender, it sometimes does not convey the message to the receiver in the correct manner. In addition, it causes one to have to repeat themselves later, after the message was sent, so that the intention of the message comes across the way originally intended.


    • I was just telling Jo Anne a story about my husband and I having it out over a text misunderstanding.


  4. You are right. And what makes it worse is when people starts using “text” language was a bunch of abbreviations like “ty” for thank you” or “smh” for ” shake my head”. To be honest, I didn’t know what these stood for until i researched it. Maybe that’s a good blog for you 🙂 about text abbreviations :)…I think that assumptions are bad in texting because we dont know for sure what the other person is relating to. I have problems at times understanding and I would have to reply “huh?” which makes me feel dumb. I sometimes just play it off as I understand of ask questions that would help me understand what the other person is saying. It is becoming a part of our lives whether we like it or not.


    • Ask and you shall receive. I have been researching the the latest in “textspeak” for a couple of months now. The most interesting thing that I have discovered is the “secret language of teen texting.” I was going to wait a couple of weeks before blogging about this but I supposed the time has come early. I will go ahead and blog about textspeak tonight and then maybe in a couple of weeks we can double-dip into the secret language.


  5. Wow. This blog is definitely one for me! I am also guilty of misinterpreting text messages. I do not know if it has to do with me being sensitive, but I usually take offense to text messages, even if the sender doesn’t mean it that way. For example, my ex-boyfriend used to text in all caps, and I always felt as if he was yelling through a text message. Reality is, he just like texting in all caps randomly. Unfortunately for, I had to interpret the message to see if he was really “yelling” or not.


    • My husband and I got into an all out war recently because he told me that if he were yelling that he would put his words in all caps. This was his rule that I stuck in the back of my mind, knowing that someday “the all-caps text” would come. So last week I texted him and reminded him that we had two meetings that night, one at our daughter’s school (about an upcoming field trip) and another at the church (which is a marriage study that we are involved in). I got a reply text that read, “I am just pulling onto 155 now (he was working in College Station that day) and I WILL BE ON TIME FOR THE STUPID MEETING!” To me, I understood this text to mean that he was would make it to the church in time for our marriage study, since this one would be first in the order of the evening. I also assumed that he would say that he would be missing a meeting if he wasn’t going to make one of them. So, in keeping with his rule I had to assume that he was yelling and I am now discovering that he thinks our intensive is STUPID. Long and the short of it, he was capitalizing for emphasis and he was letting me know that he was missing the meeting at church, but would make it to the school by the skin of his teeth. He of course was frustrated that he was missing the more important one, thus calling the letter STUPID. Don’t we all just love seeing all-caps?



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