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Communication In The Age Of Instant Messaging
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I was scrolling through my WhatsApp contacts list the other day when I came across this status someone had put up: “Before you call me, ask: was that textable?”
This line says a lot about the communication cultures of our times.
Instant messaging (IM) has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. Reaching out to people has become quicker than ever before--and cheap too. Gone are the days when we had to think about things like call and SMS charges, using them very sparingly. Now we all have unlimited data packs. It has definitely become easier. A text message is less intrusive than a phone call. It gives both people more time and flexibility to weigh in their words and respond whenever they like. A lot of apps even offer the chance to edit and delete texts after they’ve already been sent. In fact, some of us have become so used to instant messaging that we avoid using the phone at all. Nowadays, a lot of people consider it rude to call someone without texting them first.
IM has also transformed business communication to a great extent. WhatsApp is increasingly replacing email as the primary medium of communication. A lot of companies make WhatsApp groups of their employees for quick and easy communication. We don’t have to spend a lot of time to compose long-form emails, read them and send an equally long response. This has boosted productivity both in terms of time and cost. Internet communication has also enabled people to work remotely. We can instantly connect to anyone anywhere in the world.
The technology has seeped in other domains of our life too. In today’s times, it is common for people to look for companionship online based on brief profiles and get to know a potential match over text before meeting them. Ordering food has never been easier--it literally takes just a click. So is the case with shopping. Thus, it is not just messaging that has become instant, it is our expectations too. Brief and quick is the new way of communication, so much so that we get impatient with anything else. Conversations have become more colourful with emojis, GIFs and LOLs.
The ease of this new age communication is accompanied by several unique challenges. Technology has extended our working hours such that a person is never really off-work anymore. They’re expected to be available online long after their working day has ended. We have become so addicted to our smartphones that we encounter emotions similar to panic if we lose our phone sometime. We compulsively check our phones for texts hundreds of times a day without even being consciously aware of it. A lot of people experience phantom vibrations and rings, wherein they think their phone is ringing when it is actually not. Some complain that the internet has reduced face to face engagement and increased isolation.
However, it would be neither practical nor desirable to reject instant messaging to go back to older ways of communication. Hence, it is up to us to minimise the flaws and maximise the benefits of a technology that is here to stay. It doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario--we can use technology to bridge the gap between people without letting it overwhelm us. Setting limits to its usage is in our hands. Doing that would require consciously adopting an ethical standpoint without being carried away by either extreme of complete dependence or complete rejection.
From my teenage time, I had a quench to solve problems and loved leadership. Starting my career in relation management, ignited my passion for managing people. While managing I realized technology needs to be incorporated to keep pace with the changing world & do my work efficiently. Simultaneously, I was getting addicted towards Information Technology. That’s when I moved to software development arena. The reason many people are dissatisfied with cubicle work (as I was) is caused by a major disconnect between the work that you actually do, and the result it produces in the world. When you’re blindly following instructions handed down from high that are loaded with corporate jargon, whether you’re passionate about the actual what you’re doing becomes irrelevant. This encouraged me to take up the challenge of approaching the clients, communicating with them, understand their business & issues, suggest them IT solutions. On the other hand I managed teams who were responsible to execute the solutions. I felt happy as I was doing what I loved to i.e. solve problems through IT solutions & manage team through healthy leadership.
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