Seems every time we turn around, there’s some new technological tool out there; something more to think about, something more to do, something to consume more of our time. We have dozens of social networks to keep up with and an overwhelming number of opportunities to connect with others online. With IMs, chat capability, SMS texting, and emailing at our fingertips, why in the world would we need or desire yet one more medium through which to connect with others?
Truth is, since time began we as human beings have been fascinated with our ability to connect with others through various modes of communication. We’ve always communicated on multiple levels – verbally, vocally, and visually, via different routes – intrapersonally, interpersonally, within groups, and en masse – through varied mediums – face-to-face, written word, radio and television, telephone, and computer mediated . Perhaps our fascination with different modes of online communication is simply a means by which to create the layered communication we already experience in our face-to-face encounters.
With IM and chat, we can simulate our face-to-face and telephone communication, minus some of the nonverbal elements of course, and experience “almost immediate” feedback for as long as we desire. Email and texting is more like the written word, radio and television – we get to experience it at our leisure, take time to process the message received, and respond only if we choose to do so. And then twitter comes along – a medium of communication that functions somewhat like the P.S. (postscript) on a written letter. You know how it goes – you read through the entire letter, including the salutation, and then you get “a little extra” tidbit of information. It’s like the person says, “oh, and by the way,” and you instinctively know that what’s to come will likely be the juiciest piece of information received. It’s information written on the fly, last minute thoughts, off-the-cuff, sincere data bytes that draw you in and make you go “hmmmmmmm, well how about that.”
So whether you’re chatting or IM’ing, emailing or texting, or twittering your way along, keep in mind the objective at hand. Do you want to give them time to think about what you’ve said before they respond? Do you want them to engage in an ongoing interaction with you? Or, do you want them to read what you have to say, scratch their head, and think, “hmmmmmmm…?” And so the exchange begins…