Keyboards don’t make conversation

Keyboards don’t make conversation


I had an interview today during which we talked about communication.  Near the end of it we commiserated about electronic communication and its effectiveness.  I hold the belief that if you are using a keyboard to engage in “conversation” with another, you are not truly having a conversation.

Consider this:

  • You can’t see the other person so you can’t engage the 90% of the cues the other person is putting out in order to make their point.  Sixty percent of our communication is interpreted by body language and 30% is perceived by our tone of voice.  Neither of these cues are available to us when we read the written word. 
  • Most of the world doesn’t write well.  Professional writers (and since I have a few published volumes I count myself here) are told to write to the 8th grade level because that’s the level of comprehension most of the world can understand.  Therefore, the nuance of language and expression of feeling is lost in most written conversation.
  • We can rarely make a valid point in 140 characters in which some words are reduced to one letter.
  • There is no guarantee that the recipient is “listening” at the moment we are writing so the immediacy of our message languishes.
  • We try to write to gain attention but most people are multi-tasking while “reading” our conversation.

Conversation is the exchange of ideas and personal interaction with at least one other person which is now and forever best when engaged in front of the one with whom you are conversing.  Keyboards allow an anonymity between “conversants” that allows for mis-interpretation and bad feelings if not immediately understood and accepted.

What we are having with recipients of email, texts and Tweets is an exchange of words, often misinterpreted in their meaning, often misunderstood and the base of our interaction with the other.  Until we learn to write as well as we know and use spoken language, and until we can interpret words as well as body language, we can’t have conversations using keyboards.  The face to face exchange of ideas  using our mouths, ears and interpreting brains will win in Mankind’s desire to have a civilized and civil Society.