The Unfortunate Decline in Responsive Communication
Looking for a roommate over the past few months has motivated me to delve into the decline of responsive communication. From my experience, the unresponsiveness of potential roommates, whom I had already acquired rapports with, grew increasingly frustrating. Suddenly, I found myself pondering the psychology behind the decline in responsive communication. I desired to understand the reasoning behind it all. What was with all this “ghosting?”
As much as I love the word “Millennial,” I find myself disappointed about the prospects of being grouped in that category. Recently, I stumbled upon an article regarding a colleague who overheard someone in his office say,
“He’s a Millennial, so he’s probably not going to return my call, but I’m going to leave him a message anyway.”
Are all millennials notoriously known for their inability to give a proper response? One could argue that we are losing our communication backbone altogether. Has the sheer amount of communication platforms resulted in a society where it is almost natural, even expected, to ignore situations that require awkward and confrontational communication skills? Let’s face it. Perhaps social media could be to blame. There are so many platforms for communication that have resulted in responding suddenly becoming optional. But is it right to just assume the other person will “get the hint?”
I mean, what’s the point? Lack of responsiveness leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings which in turn, can lead to more confrontation: the very thing people try to avoid. For example, my exhaustion searching for a roommate led me to become confrontational at times, in an effort to finally get a response. Even after repeated attempts to initiate communication, it is viable for many just to decide that no response is even necessary.
What is the Psychology of Communication?
According to research, two factors play a role in desirable communication: Quickness and efficiency. People want feedback and information instantly. Therefore, texting, email and social media naturally outweigh the use of phone calls and voicemail. Knowing that now, I will use more traditional forms of communication. After all, if someone is willing to get back to the basics to talk to you, they are more likely to be serious prospects. Text messaging is for good for informal communication, but phone calls build a stronger connection. Even better? Face to face. The more personal you get, the less likely you are to be disposable.
An article from Forbes, “Why Millennials are Texting More and Talking Less” elaborates further on the severity of newer communication mediums:
“Over the past decade, these technologies have ushered in a new era of communication—redefining standards of etiquette, introducing new tensions between generations, and prompting concerns that the timbre of our voices will soon be drowned out by the click-clack of keyboards.”
That response may seem dramatic, but since 2008, messaging has topped the number of phone calls in usage. The gap continues to rise significantly. A whopping 78% of wireless minutes go unused because people are preferring text messaging and emails. Text messages do not interfere with what a person is engaging in at the moment, but phone calls do. Hence, why we prefer texting vs. phone calls. Perhaps, we are afraid of establishing truly vulnerable connections to one another.
“A generation of e-mailing, followed by an explosion in texting, has pushed the telephone conversation into serious decline, creating new tensions between baby boomers and Millennials — those in their teens, 20s and early 30s,” said the Washington Post.
Shortened Attention Spans?
Perhaps, the answer is an overall shortening of attention spans. A study by Microsoft states that American’s attention spans have gone from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in just a decade!
It is starting to make sense now. For years, I have been told I am an old soul, and I truly understand why. I still value the ability to communicate on the phone. I still love meeting people for coffee to discuss further plans. While I text more than I should, I try not to overly drown myself in a text-only mindset that undermines the value of personal communication.
I try to expand communication, not restrict. These new forms of communication are great, but they should not be replacements, just supplements. Unfortunately, there seems to be a universal understanding that accepts a lack of communication as a form of communication. What is that about? It will take me a while to fully understand the changes happening when it comes to responsive communication. Hopefully, keeping an open mind to other people’s perspective will help me feel more compassion towards others.
Overall, rather than letting my frustrations get the best of me, I have to let it go. Instead, through writing this article, I have gained a better understanding of the reasons behind it all. Social media and texting have changed the structure of communication that was previously expected in older generations. Do you see what I see? If you are like me and have trouble accepting the actions of others around you, try delving into the psychology behind it. Perhaps then, you will gain a sense of closure. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please do not wait. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.
Author: Shernide Delva