03 May 2006

The Ancient Vault: SMS- The Killer of Interpersonal Relationships

(This post was written in 2003. It is part of the blog's one year anniversary celebration.)

Communications, more specifically interpersonal communication, is an important aspect in human lives. If you keep a man on an island with adequate food and water but NO communication whatsoever (ala Tom Hanks in Cast Away), he will go crazy.

When we talk to each other, we learn to express our feelings and also learn to observe theirs. Unlike writing letters, we do not have that much time to compose words, and so through conversations we also train our ability to speak politely and courteously.

Communication is vital in raising our standards. If we want to ascend the corporate ladder, we must be able to speak forthright and share our views. We must be able to present our views if we want to show our capabilities. I'm not including "sucking up" but it is sometimes necessary. But in the end, the important thing to know is that interpersonal communication is vital to human survival.

Enter SMS. Strangely enough, this service has barely caught on in the US market. The rest of the world, specifically Europe and most of Asia is enveloped by its usefulness and affordability. You don't even have to worry if the person on the other side is free or not. Send him one and he can access it anytime he's free. You can fit in quite a lot within the 140 character limit if you know how (I certainly don't).

Yet, when you think of it, over-usage of SMS is creating a barrier between the user and the rest of the world. SMS is like cyber dating and chatting, it does not possess the "human touch". We are not communicating with humans, we are talking to computers! What this happens is that the user loses his or her ability to communicate effectively when it is required. They rather send an SMS than call the person up if possible. Yes, even if the cost of the SMS is double the cost of the phone call.

A perfect example of this is yours truly. Earlier this evening (24 Dec) I wanted to contact a colleague. Before I called him up, I contemplated. Should I call him or SMS him? I felt intimidated by the thought of actually speaking with the person on the other side. Fear crept in and I started making excuses. "Nah, he's probably busy right now.", "He may not welcome my call.", "What if it's engaged?". I ended up SMSing him.

Then I realized. Though I only had my cell phone for 2 months, I was beginning to forsake interpersonal communication. I decided to call him the next morning for if this trend continues, I know it will become a habit. I had the mindfulness to pull myself out from this disturbing trend. How about others? How about you?

Moral of the article: Take every opportunity to talk to people, it feels good. If you ever find yourself choosing between SMS and calling, don't hesitate to call first, SMS later.

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