This week I have been thinking a lot about language and communication. One of the primary forms of communication these days is through text or other messaging systems such as Facebook.
This weekend I was in the situation where I was in a group chat with three other people who I went abroad with this summer. Our group chat consisted of random articles of the US elections and funny Canadian things (as two of us are Canadian and two are American). This group chat is only used a few times a month but one of the members abruptly removed herself from the message. All we were left with was a “_______ left the group.”
Automatically I assumed she was either fed up with our group or she didn’t want to talk any more. I based my evidence solely on the social cues of Facebook. Now I feel like I can’t reach out to her again unless she makes the first move.
This situation had me thinking about whether or not we let technology form empty assumptions that take over our choices in relationships. There could be many reasons she chose to leave the chat, but I automatically assumed it was something that I did. I do the same thing if someone texts me without emojis and God forbid proper grammar!! I think they are mad at me when in reality they’re just typing realistically. I am known for throwing in a “lol” or “haha” even if something isn’t funny; I just want to keep the tone happy.
But why do I feel like I need fluff to do that? I certainly do not do that in face to face conversation. I think we rely on social media cues to avoid confrontation. By her leaving the message she did not have to confront us and say whatever was on her mind that made her want to leave. By sending a one lettered response such as “K” or by ignoring people entirely on social media while they can see the “seen @___time” we are avoiding having the conversation. We get our point across without having to take responsibility and explain.
I feel as though social media has created a whole new language of blank spaces. We are left to fill in the blanks, always guessing but never knowing. I think this can be dangerous, it’s a lot like putting words in peoples mouths.
What are your thoughts?