How often have you sent an urgent text and impatiently waited for a reply? Texting etiquette says we should respond within a few hours at most – assuming we didn’t (gasp) forget our phone at home.
Technology has changed the way we communicate, from the speed of communication to the quality of communication. Gone are the days when recent news became old because it took time to send a letter. We often assume the person we want to communicate with has an email account, cellphone, or both.
Technology has impacted how we communicate with family, friends, and coworkers. Let’s look at some examples of how much we’ve come to rely on tech to communicate with others.
Messages, Email, and Social Etiquette
How often do you say, “I’ll text you the info?” or “I’ll send you an email?”
Only one generation ago, it was still trendy to send letters and Christmas cards by post. The cost of a stamp was much less than what it is today, and all you had to do was wait a few days to a week for your letter to reach the recipient.
It also wasn’t that long ago when we used dial-up – that horrid screech on the telephone line – to surf the net. You couldn’t get online privately either – first, you had to tell everyone in the household not to pick up the phone!
These days, a long letter can be sent overseas by email and read by the recipient on their phone in a matter of minutes.
You can send a voice message or text message by any number of options: SMS, Whatsapp, Telegram, WeChat, Messenger, and many more.
We also have many new social issues that we didn’t have more than a decade ago. Back then, we could “chicken out” and slam the phone when the answering machine clicked on, and we weren’t sure what to say.
These days, it’s the psychological impact of the Read Receipt. If the other party has read your message but doesn’t reply, does it mean you’re not important or they don’t care to reply? If you sent the message hours ago, but they didn’t open it, should you send another message in case the message was lost in cyberspace?
And if you really want to get with the times, what do you do if your email or message was opened days ago and you were ghosted?
These days, we expect a response immediately, within an hour, or at least within twenty-four hours if it’s not urgent. After all, we can answer a question and send information instantaneously.
We can even video chat a loved one while on a business trip or vacation to another country. Distance and time zones aren’t an issue anymore.
Communication at Work
Technology has closed the physical distance between people, work, and talent.
Previously, you needed a system to keep track of the most recent version of a document. If employee A creates a file and sends it to two others for review, how could employee C and B coordinate feedback?
With technology like Google Docs, many people from different offices in different cities can work on the same document simultaneously without worrying about keeping track of which version is the most recent. It also introduces a whole new level of strategy.
For example, it’s a little more challenging to tell your coworkers that you’re working on the document if you’re not showing as active in the file. It’s also a bit nerve-wracking if you’re writing a sentence and you know someone else is, in a sense, looking over your shoulder.
Fun moments can arise, such as when I was working on a document and a cursor appeared. A coworker started to type a note addressed to me in the middle of a paragraph. The note was just to say Hello, how are you doing? Then he deleted the sentence.
The upside of having files in a cloud, of course, is not worrying about what happens if your computer crashes or you need to access the file and keep working from another computer. You have a lot more flexibility.
The ability to share files has changed the speed of communication. You can save your file and open it again to share in the board room without having to lug around your computer or a USB drive.
If your talent is not writing or typing, you can record your meeting and have it transcribed into notes afterward. Grammar and spell check options will put red squiggles under your words as you type your notes. Then a click of a mouse can correct a mistake or rewrite an entire sentence in a second.
With grammar check options and apps such as Grammarly and Hemmingway, one could say that we no longer need writing lessons. Professional editors may also be out of a job one day because of AI.
That “one day” won’t be for a while yet, so human editors will still be around. Even if you’re not thinking of hiring a professional editor, you still need to be your own word expert.
Our smartphones aren’t yet smart enough to be fully trusted with our messages. Autocorrect can create some awkward situations, depending on what word your phone thinks you had in mind. Voice dictation can produce funny results too. I’ve studied some puzzling messages from a manager who said apologetically, “Siri likes to mess with me.”
Grammar correction options in word processing or email programs are both good and bad. I’m grateful when I can’t remember if an obscure word is spelled with one “r” or two, and I can play around with letters until the program likes what I type.
It’s also helpful if you’ve had a long day and your editing program kicks in so that you realize you just typed, “I’ll see you at the the meeting.”
If you can’t remember grammar and punctuation rules, these grammar programs are great. If you’re an editor or a writer with strong grammar, technology can be annoying. You can find yourself fighting with a program that says your sentence is incorrect when your sentence is perfectly fine. You just have to know your grammar rules.
Where will we be in the future? Will AI take over the job of professional writers? Will AI be a substitute for professional editors?
The future is hard to predict. Any language, including English, is a living language. Professional editors’ forums debate the spelling of a word or a writing style. What wasn’t acceptable three years ago could become correct grammar in five years.
What we considered conventional or unconventional ways of writing may change ten years from today. Will technology be able to keep up with all the changes and adaptations and write as well as the most talented human? We’ll see.
Technology has impacted the speed and convenience of communication. One day, it may be possible to ask a robot to write our emails for us. Until then, we will still have our fun with autocorrect and grammar check!
What’s your opinion on the influence of technology on communication? Leave your comment below.
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