Jenna Behrens is a licensed professional counselor who has been practicing in the mental health field for seven years. She owns Behrens Psychotherapy Services, LLC which has four office locations around the Milwaukee area. She works with children, adolescents, families, and adults on a wide array of issues including depression, anxiety, ADHD, childhood behavioral disorders, adjustment disorders, stress and parenting.
I often have a love-hate relationship with technololgy. Sometimes I'm thankful to be able to be reached anywhere at anytime and sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I love that I can DVR a show I can't be home to watch and sometimes I hate the amount of TV that is consumed in our home. One part of technology I absolutely will never love is communicating serious topics via email, facebook, text messaging, etc. I have seen this in both my personal and professional life. Someone is mad at someone and they make a comment about it on Facebook or send a mean email and it gets blown way out of proportion. It seems that some people haven't learned the rules when using technology to communicate. As far as I'm concerned, if you are sitting down at your computer or texting a serious message to someone, you are at risk for creating a lot of issues. If you can't pick up the phone or meet the person to talk about whatever it is you want to communicate, then it probably shouldn't be said. It's so easy to sit at your computer or type a text message on your phone and let your emotions get the best of you. It's a lot more difficult to tell someone to their face. When you are using technology, you don't allow the other person to have an opinion or explain themselves which often leave the other person feeling angry, resentful and usually shocked.
A large problem with communicating through technology is that you can't read someone's facial expressions or hear their voice to take in clues about how they're feeling or how they meant their message to be heard. If you type "shut up" for example, it sounds rude and mean. If you say "shut up" with a smile, it sounds like you're joking around with someone. In email and text message, there are no clues. We have to take everything for face value which can be very troublesome. Even with the emoticons that we use now (ex: smiley and winky faces), the full message isn't being communicated.
I just ask one thing of anyone reading this blog, next time you sit down at your computer, tablet or phone and are full of emotion, take a breath and a minute, hour, day, or week and think. If it doesn't matter to you in a week, it probably isn't worth communicating and if it is still bothering you, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation with that person and express your feelings. Let's stop the angry messages. If we don't, we might start to feel like we are being assaulted by our computers, phones, and tablets everytime we look at them.