Communication In the Digital Age – Lost in Translation

I remember it used to always be face-to-face. If not face-to-face, a phone call, a house phone…with a cord in the wall.

Today: important, hearty, deep, intense information is relayed online or electronically. Subsequently, much of our communication is lost in translation. When sharing a story or comment if we don’t properly display a “!” or a “:)” the communication could be taken totally the wrong way.

The receiver cannot hear our voice, cannot watch our body language, cannot see our smile (or frown) and cannot use their innate human senses. Rather, they read a comment and if they are having a bad day, if they misread (or aren’t good at reading between the lines) the message interpretation is up to the receiver.

In this type of communication, conclusions are jumped to constantly.


After dating for over two years my high school boyfriend broke up with me on the phone (note: we’re since great friends and laugh about our younger days). Granted, I was in high school but you can imagine my disdain. We lived in the same small hometown, grew up together, had been longtime friends before dating and had the exact same friends. We lived five minutes from each other.

We saw each other (inevitably) in school the next day after his ominous and surprising phone call. I was bewildered, in shock and hurt. Even to this day, he isn’t sure why it came out on the phone – why not just drive those five minutes and TELL me? My one question, “Why couldn’t you look me in the face? Why on the phone?”

I crave in person meetings. I want to look at your face. I want to see the way your lips twitch upwards, nervously. I want to see when eyes twinkle, or drip in sadness. I want to see when you huff and puff, roll your eyes or cross your arms indignantly. You cannot see any of this in a text message, e-mail or in on a Facebook wall. These verbal clues are absent, leaving us devoid of the true expression behind the communication.

Serious Conversations…By Text?

I have many serious conversations or received information via G-Chat, on the phone (reasonable, many friends live far away) or by text. It’s pretty standard. It’s not bad, per say. It’s instant, it’s quick, it’s how we communicate.

We live in a culture where young people—outfitted with iPhone and laptop and devoting hours every evening from age 10 onward to messaging of one kind and another—are ever less likely to develop the “silent fluency” that comes from face-to-face interaction. It is a skill that we all must learn, in actual social settings, from people (often older) who are adept in the idiom. As text-centered messaging increases, such occasions diminish. The digital natives improve their adroitness at the keyboard, but when it comes to their capacity to “read” the behavior of others, they are all thumbs. –Wall Street Journal

I feel badly and I wish I was sitting with this person talking face to face. If a conversation is escalating, I always take it “offline.” At the very best, video chat or phone if we cannot communicate in person.

Unfortunately, when a text flies by you and the response is misread or confused because of the lack of emotion or it’s read ‘wrong’ or without hearing my kind voice you assume it’s me being short with you because it’s a one sentence text without emoticons, OR you’re multitasking, talking to someone in person, watching TV and texting back to your friend, is it too late? Will this keep happening?

I think as much as we’re enabled by technology that it strips us of the human emotion and hinders our ability to communicate truthfully.

Expressing Yourself Eloquently? Or LOL, OMG, !!!:

As a lover of words and missing the lost-art of letter writing I think about this also, historically, “If Jefferson had sent text messages to Adams, think what would have been lost to history?” As the digital gal that I am, I communicate with many of you via this blog. But even as I output information, stories and blog posts – the communication of “stealing” someone else’s content has become infinitely easier. Cut, paste, post, inauthentic, no one sniffs it out or really cares. It’s a vast rabbit hole.

I think there are multiple ways to express yourself. Writing, has been a beautiful way to eloquently express in words, your emotions, your mind, your heart.

But, “Hi, g2g to work. So tired, lol. Tlk soon 😉 xo. G-unit.”

Not exactly the likes of Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy, huh?

With information overload at the forefront of our generation, a recent study showed that in 2005 people spent about one minute consuming media for every 1,000 minutes available—a ratio that has grown roughly tenfold since 1960.

However I can, I will focus on the human interaction. I will focus my attention on my friend, even if it’s a text message and properly display how I feel (show, don’t tell, right?) I will pick up the phone, even if it’s serious and it’s easier to skirt the ominous topic by e-mail. I will focus on the authenticity, whenever I can. I put away my electronics at dinner, and sit and look you in the eye and talk to keep it real. I use social media, I work in social media and I have two blogs, but I will still always portray my honest opinion, belief and voice (as much as possible). I promise you that.

Have you been lost in translation? Has an e-mail been read wrong? Have you been able to 100% portray how you feel, without being face to face? Where is our communication going?

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