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Day 14: Texting Away Our Humanity, Part One…

Today, I’m still pretty tired. Feeling “written out.” Exhausted.

Overwhelmed by my commitment to blog for 31 days straight. I have another 17 days to go. (Eeeeeek!)

For some reason I cannot manage to get a few posts written and “in the can” so I can rest a bit. And breathe. But this might be that post.

Ideas are still flooding into my head

For example, I had considered posting about the heinous bullying of Karen Klein, the 68-year-old school bus monitor by four teenage boys in Greece, N.Y.

That repulsive story has already received too much air time and was well-handled here by Psych Central Founder and Editor-in-Chief John M. Grohol, PhD on June 21st in a World of Psychology post.

I have some other perspectives on this incident that feed into my discussion earlier this month about discrimination and prejudice. Right now, however, I simply do not have the energy to explore them, so I’m going to recharge before I do.

Something else is really bothering me…

So, I’m going muse about that. It’s more than just bothering me, I’m worried. Seriously. Perhaps it’s a social ill. Or just a social trend. I don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s fair to call it “social.”

I think it’s anti-social. You tell me.

We live in an increasingly quiet household.

Besides our dogs who live to alert us to at any activity they see outside, our phones almost never ring. I’ve disconnected one of our two landlines because they are becoming obsolete. Most people prefer email or texting, besides my mother and my youngest step-daughter who do call us and we love to hear their voices.

Several years ago, I posted about this in my earlier incarnation of Coming Out Crazy. In that July 3rd, 2009 post, I asked “Is Texting versus Talking destroying the human dialogue?”

Today, I would ask, “Is Texting Destroying Our Humanity?”

Today, I’m still asking that question, but more often and with more urgency.

I guess what I’m really asking is ~ with smartphones and other technologies ~ are we losing our basic humanity, a great part of which is our ability to talk to each other, engage with each other and communicate in real time.

Who are we, if we cannot engage with each other actively and emotionally?

You have no idea how many people have said to me that “I’m not a phone person,” or “I am afraid of the phone,” or “I prefer to schedule my telephone time,” or in other words, “If you want to communicate with me, use email or texting.”

Too many people don’t bother answering their phones, if they ring, I suspect. Rather, they monitor their calls and return them in “their time.” They prefer to control their reality.

To relinquish the thrill of serendipity, happenstance, coincident and chance. Spontaneous communication has become too challenging for many to handle. Or too disruptive. Or too jarring.

There’s too much silence. No words. Just clicks.

I believe now, as I did when I originally wrote about this issue, that this is contributing to our ultimate loss of humanity. “The change in the nature of our interpersonal communications. Our social world is shrinking.”

I’ve noticed this in public places. Years ago, before iPhones and iPads and iTouches, people talked to each other on buses and subways. Those vehicles were filled with human voices. Now, everyone is busy with their fingers and thumbs and with tiny seeds blasting away in their ears. They’re oblivious to the world around them. To the people around them.

Are people listening to each other anymore? With the ears and their heart?

People may be using their eyes, but what about their ears and the hearts. Are they listening actively to other people? Are they listening intelligently, emotionally and empathetically to live voices around them? Or even on the telephone?

The difference between animals and humans is that humans can talk to each other. Animals communicate in other ways, but they don’t use words and spoken language the same way we do. They don’t engage in verbal communication or thoughtful, rational, intellectual, emotional, articulated conversations with each other.

The keyword is “engage”

You cannot call texting talking because it’s not. You don’t engage when you text or write an email.

It’s not in real time and it’s toneless. Abysmally toneless. As is email. Timing is everything, and without the feeling of the moment, with two or more people engaging together at the same time, something magical about being human is lost.

Many academics believe that all this keyboard communication may be at the root of anti-social behaviour. I might add that it also can feed a sense of isolation.

“Have we sacrificed conversation for mere connection?”

In her April 21, 2012 op-ed piece in the New York Times, psychologist and M.I.T professor Sherry Turkle expressed my concerns perfectly:

“We live in a technological universe in which we are always communication,” she wrote. “And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.”

To Be Continued…


Day 14: Texting Away Our Humanity, Part One…

Sandy Naiman

Sandy Naiman is a Toronto freelance journalist.

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APA Reference
Naiman, S. (2012). Day 14: Texting Away Our Humanity, Part One…. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 24 Jun 2012
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