Does Texting Lead to Miscommunication in Relationships?

While texting has positively affected communication channels, safety and accessibility to one another; has it also become a reliable form of relationship building? Is this a good or a bad thing? Has this media taken the intimacy out of relationships?

For my BCM240 final project, I conducted an ethnographical study that aimed to uncover the truth about texting in relationships, and whether texting led to miscommunication. I chose to make a short interview style video, featuring people of different relationship stages and ages to get a true grasp on how they felt about texting, and whether or not this was the preferred form of communication.

I chose to include my talents speaking and to show their faces to further convey the argument; that emotions and facial expressions truly send the message. I aimed to layer both positive and negative opinions of text messaging in relationships in the video.

Finding talents proved to be slightly difficult, as not many were willing to open up about their personal relationships and communication approaches; hence why two participants were family members. This was an advantage to me, as trust was already gained and established, therefore there was no need for conversation or ‘scene-setting’ before hand. With my other talent however, I needed her to know exactly what was going on and how the video would be depicted; thus, we spoke about the topic prior to recording and I shared my thoughts and opinions with her as well, allowing for an ethical and collaborative ethnography.

70% of the people surveyed for this project said they text their partner ‘all day every day.’ Many of those who took part in this small-scale research project were Gen-Y’s; so having grown up with texting, it naturally became a reliable source of communication for them. While many participants were young (under 25) and not married, thus not seeing their partner everyday, this resulted in many more texts sent throughout the day to keep in contact.

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My survey revealed that 95% of people have had a fight through text, and when asked individually as to why this was the case, many responded by saying that it was often the case of miscommunication.

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This research project was based off research already conducted about the use of texting and mobile phones in romantic relationships. One article written on the topic is ‘Using Technology to Connect in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Attachment, Relationship Satisfaction, and Stability in Emerging Adults’ by Lori Cluff Schade , Jonathan Sandberg , Roy Bean , Dean Busby and Sarah Coyne. One aspect that stood out to me and that led to form the basis of my research was, ‘the use of texting with cell phones can increase intimacy by making partners more available and expanding their repertoire of connection (Henline, 2006).’ Does texting your partner truly allow the relationship to become more intimate? Or do we solely rely on using our thumbs to communicate, and think that is enough? Many respondents believe that face-to-face communication is still the preferred form, and will never take over texting. However a large portion of participants agreed that a mix between the two is what keeps a relationship together in our contemporary society.

In an article written by Christine Murray and Emily Campbell, they undergo research into the way technology is used by couples and how it affects the relationship. “Couples have the opportunity to stay connected in a way they never have had before.” I aimed to explore this issue more and ask the why and how question and even challenge this idea through exploring whether texting actually leads to miscommunication.

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Has the digital world and accessibility to social media and instant messaging taken the place of real life communication and relationships? My aim was to find out. Generally, younger relationships that have grown up with mobile phones and social media at their fingertips form and base their relationships (at least the communication aspect) on the convenience of text messaging. It is easy to hide behind a computer screen or mobile phone to get a message across, but when it comes to real face-to-face communication, often sharing thoughts and feelings is much harder. These spaces therefore change and are adapted depending on the person to whom we are communicating to.

For relationships, such as marriages, which were formed without text messaging, mobile phones and social media even existing; face-to-face communication is much easier, faster, convenient and preferred. Access to media and the many technological advances are only advantages, and seen as another way to communicate when they are not with their partner. However, due to this and individuals knowing how their partner communicates in person, can lead to a miscommunication through text messaging. Abbreviations and the use of emojis as silly as it may sound, if used the wrong way or if auto-correct steps in, assumptions and accusations can be made, leading to potential arguments. ‘Mobile messaging is the modern way to communicate. It’s instant, location independent, and personal. That’s why the new mobile phone generation has started to favour messaging, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the mobile communications industry’ (Nokia, 2002).

Text messaging therefore seems to provide an opportunity for intimate personal contact whilst at the same time offering the detachment necessary to manage self-presentation and involvement. (Donna and Fraser Reid, 2004)

Overall, this experience taught me that text messaging has both negative and positive effects on an intimate relationship. While communication can be more constant and accessible thanks to text messaging, it can also prove to cause miscommunication and even superficiality within these relationships.

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