Monday, July 7, 2014


(From GRACELETS by Bill Faris, MPC)

The harm in your hands

"When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10: 19)

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Let me get right to the point:
do not use texting for anything beyond "reporting" information.  A "good" text is "I'll be picking dinner up on the way home". A "bad" text is "You never listen to me. I feel so hurt by your indifference.  I'm sick of you putting up your walls".

Dear Readers: NEVER use texts to share your opinions.  And, for goodness sake, please do not use texting to express your feelings. And any text which has to be scrolled to be read is probably an unwise and problematic one.  And any text which you would be embarrassed for your spouse, pastor, parent, or best friend to read or view is suspect, too.

I know, I know --  many will ignore this advice. They will get into a deeply-felt and intense texting exchange with a friend, spouse, "ex", son, daughter, or co-worker. It will seem necessary. It will seem urgent. It will seem expedient.

As they text, their blood is pumping. Adrenaline is coursing through their system. They are engaged, aroused, "all in". In their own mind they can "hear the words" they are texting. Their inner voice has nuance, emphasis, tone, emotional complexity. Inside their own heart they can "hear" the rise and fall of their voice as their fingers fly to punch out a long stream of digital content.

They think they are communicating what is in their heart and mind just like they "hear it" in their head.  Plus, they can do so VERY rapidly in a gushing torrent of unedited stream-of-consciousness output that is reminiscent of an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.

This is a fools game. "Communicating" important emotional or complex content in this manner WILL cost them. Things will be misunderstood.  Words will be shared that cannot be taken back (indeed, they can be saved, cross-referenced, referred back to, and used as "proof positive" in any number of ways).  Straight up: texting of this kind is DUMB. It often hurts, messes things up, and doesn't help.  Just stop it.

The Problem With Texting

Texting is fine as a way to communicate "unloaded", non-controversial, and emotionally neutral data.  But to utilize texting beyond this is to ignore everything we know about the important elements of truly effective communication.

You see, every conversation is really THREE concurrent conversations. There is the exchange of raw data.  That's one. Then there is the emotional conversation with the other. That's two. Then there is the emotional conversation with one's self. That's three.

All three are happening concurrently in every conversation.  That's why the most effective and complete conversations are face-to-face.  Face-to-face interactions allow each of these three levels of communication to be discerned at a higher level. Also, face-to-face conversations allow the non-verbal aspects of communication to play their essential role.

Texting, by its nature, is not up to the task of carrying non-verbal, emotional, nuanced aspects of communication. It is not capable of being delicate, exacting, or sophisticated. It is like doing surgery with a chain saw. Or, as the speaker in the video below quips: "it is like communicating through a straw".

Unedited = Unwise

To argue via text is the worse possible use of the medium. When passions are high and tempers are hot, it is human nature to want to spill out one's feelings without
editing.  Writing a letter or even an email at least makes us slow down, craft, pause, re-think, and sculpt our words and thoughts into what we hope will be an effective communication.

One of the problems is the presence of adrenaline in our systems. When we are aroused, defensive, or on the attack our system automatically injects a shot of adrenaline into our system.  We don't have to think about this.  It is auto-response. Adrenaline serves an important purpose to our most primal instincts - the so-called "fight of flee" mechanism.

If we are "fight" oriented, adrenaline raises our alertness, causes us to strike harder, and move quicker. It helps us bypass the
editing and processing centers of the brain. We will flash our claws, release our roar, and unsheathe our sharpest swords. Make no mistake.  We can do all of this digitally if we whip out our handy communication device and start pushing buttons inspired by adrenaline.

If, on the other hand, we are in "flee" mode, adrenaline helps us run away faster and raises our defensive instincts to a premium level.  We automatically shift into a hyper-alert state.  We will perceive anything that has even the slightest sense of being a threat as an ICBM headed straight to our soul and we will go into super-defensive mode.

Therefore, when those with whom we are intensively texting send their message back to us, let's just say we are not likely to be great at the interpretive, nuanced, and complex parts of good human communication.

Now, take note: either response will last about fifteen minutes. That is -- unless we keep the arousal of our primal instincts going. (By the way: this includes the sexual instincts which helps to account for the unbelievably regrettable instances of "sexting" that ruin people's lives and reputations every day).

If we keep firing new shots of adrenaline into our system we can crank on for a long, long time and the damage, misunderstanding, and regrets can stack u[ like cord wood without our having to think about it.

Just stop it.  At least for fifteen minutes. Here's how.

1. STOP and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to write a thoughtful email, dial into a Spirit-led phone call, or set up an important face-to-face meeting.

2. STOP and settle down for at least fifteen minutes. Start writing your thoughts down in an email or on paper. EDIT your words. SETTLE your heart.  FOCUS your mind. Then, communicate back from your wisest, deepest place.

3. STOP and ask yourself: "What am I sending that will BE SAVED FOREVER on someone else's handy-dandy communication device"?  Then ask yourself: "do I want these words to be recorded in this form - when I have shot them out this fast - FOREVER"?

4. STOP and consider whether you need to re-read, re-think, re-interpret, and spend time with the communications you are getting from others before you can say you really "get" where they are coming from.

If you are responding before fifteen minutes have passed (if it is an emotionally intense exchange) you can almost be CERTAIN YOU ARE NOT "HEARING" them properly. You are almost certainly REACTING.

I hope you will join me in making a covenant with your fingers, computer, smart phone, and The Lord to only use texts for reporting purposes and not for arguing, inappropriate sexual messages, emotionally intense communications and the like.  Okay?  Okay.
: )

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