Thursday, 15 May 2014

Day 14: The Messaging Fallacy


What is the Messaging Fallacy? It's the idea that sending text messages is a better way to organise something or to communicate than a short 30 second phone call. For example:

Thursday, 15:00hrs

>. Hey what are you doing tonight?
>. Nuffin. what's up?
>. how about a quick one down the pub?
>. sure. where?
>. Dog & trumpet?
>. Which one is that?
>. That's the one at the corner of the common.
>. Wandsworth?
>. No. Ealing.
>. k. which corner?
>. The south corner.
>. I thought you hated that pub?
>. I do hate that pub.
>. So which pub then?
>. FFS  its the one near the station.
>. Oh. Right. See you there then? 8.00?
>. 8.30 is better.
>. k.
>. Laters.

Thursday, 20:35hrs

>. Where are you?
>. On the train.
>. how far?
>. 2 stops, but train is stopped between station. Where r U?
>. At the pub.
>. ok. be there soon.
>. No worries. its nice in the beer garden. I'm holding a table.
>. what beer garden? what pub are you in?
>. The one you said!
>. The dog & trumpet doesn't have a garden dude.
>. oh. I'm in the kings head.
>. FFS! I meant the other pub.
>. You said you hate that pub.
>. Sorry. stupid auto correct. I meant I don't hate that pub.
>. OK I'll see you over at the other pub then.
>. phone is nearly out of battery. just stay where you are.

Needless to say the phone, in this conversation, the phone dies at this point. A meeting place is not established properly. it takes another hour to meet up, leaving enough time to say laters and head back home.

I think we've all experienced something similar. This could have been avoided with a phone call, probably. You can say more in less time when you talk. It generally costs less too.

But there is a whole generation that seems to hate talking on the phone. It's not the current young generation. They can't seem to stop babbling. It's the one between mine and theirs. Something happened, I don't know what, to make talking on the phone a chore. Undesirable. Uncool.

Not only do they not call, but they don't answer their phones, leave voice-mail or listen to their voice-mail. This is in fact a general trend. Apparently 80% of voice-mail is unheard by the intended recipient. 

Perhaps it's because it's convenient to say "sorry I didn't get your text" if you want to avoid someone - despite the fact that we all know that the majority of text messages get through. And we all have return-receipts turned on, don't we?

Or is it because it's easier to lie to someone or just ignore them through text? In the same way that it's easier to be aggressive in an email or write things you wouldn't never dream of saying out loud? Even though it makes less sense to do this when you leave a record of it?

I don't know. Perhaps I'm old fashioned in actually wanting to talk to people. I don't think I am, I just find it more efficient. And that's without taking into account the clunkyness of auto-correct and stupid touch screen phones.

No, messaging is useful for some things, but not everything. The idea that it's the best way of communicating is a fallacy.