There are many things I am not. I am not really a phone person. (Although because I can be a people person, I can sometimes seem like a phone person. But generally speaking, I hate phones.) I am not a conflict person… I may create some, but not intentionally. And, whether I caused it or not, I don’t like dealing with conflict-y things. I am also not often what one would consider a clever or particularly helpful conversationalist in person. Perhaps that is just a self-perception but most of the time that’s one of the few perceptions I have, so I deal.
Anyway, one thing I am almost too good and too comfortable with is online chatting. Not emails as much as instant messaging, where both parties are present, although often in two distinctly different locations, and sharing in a real-time conversation via computer. Note I said “often” — this would be because I spend 5-days a week at the office sending various instant messages to people who sit within a stones throw of my desk. Actually less than a stones throw… I can throw a stone pretty far.
I have had a number of very deep, spiritual, personal kind of conversations over the years via one instant messaging program or another. One might call it “mentoring”. Or maybe “available”. Or better still, simply a friend. But nonetheless, that has become part of what I do and how I communicate with people who are geographically located all over the place.
There are many things about instant messaging that are less than perfect. You can’t tell how somebody is reacting for certain — only with a sense of who the person is in real life, or by discernment, can we get an idea of this. Also, some things literally get lost in transmission. I’ve had messages critical to the ongoing discussion never get to the recipient… the messages before and after, yes, but not the one that had the meat in it. If I’m lucky and catch on, I can resend it, but not always does it work out.
BUT… (apart from the obvious advantage of talking to these people in the first place) to me the best thing about instant messaging is the “think time” that it can provide. Granted, I am a fast typer and can let my response messages get sent off a lot quicker than I intended, sharing stellar remarks such as “that’s so goo” or “okya!”. But most of the time, the “think time” does apply.
I don’t take “think time” nearly enough in real person to person conversations (either on the phone or in person). Maybe I always feel the pressure to respond immediately, even without thinking something through. But when online, I can craft a somewhat witty response, or (on the other end of the spectrum) take a moment to pray or listen for the best response.
We’ve all experienced receiving a message where our out loud (negative) reaction is along the lines of “OH, come on!!! You’ve got to be kidding me!!” and our filtered reply is “oh really?” or “ok, that’s fine”, usually because there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. For some of us, we do this in person too… although many people don’t.
I like “think time” because it allows for a more quality response. By the time I finish typing my reply, having already re-read the typed out parts many times while typing the rest, I can immediately assess whether it is a good response… whether it is clear, kind, appropriate, spelled correctly…. any number of things. It’s just that smidgen slower (even for quick typists) in process time that it allows for the “think time” that is so easily discarded within the structure of in person exchanges.
Maybe I need to start typing my comments, questions, replies out in my head before sharing with the auditory world?
Having shared all of that, I don’t think I’m going to proofread this tonight. Hahahahhaa! Just more typing out loud.
Till another time, O live, people!!