You Better Not Be Texting Me in That Tone of Voice!

06/13/2015 12:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 13, 2016

My nightly prayers shall end like this, from here on out: God, bless my iPhone, which allows me to remain steadfast in my connection to random pop culture knowledge, thereby solidifying my secret relationship with Wikipedia, allows me to ensure my spelling is correct the majority of the time in order to avoid humiliation among my peers, predicts my train of thought so that I may continue to become even more mentally lazy, allows occasional autocorrect mishaps just to ensure some level of comic relief within the most inopportune of circumstances and, most importantly, creates a vast world of frustrating text and email communication breakdowns within my stupid little "techy" life...

Hurricane Communication Breakdown

If my beloved iPhone were not so expensive to replace, I likely would have hurled it across the room and shattered a window at least a time or two by now, while caught in the eye of one of the most vicious and frightening storms of all: Hurricane Communication Breakdown. Such a storm occurs because pertinent fragments of information are often lost in translation through text and email attempts at conveying one's message. The problem is that vocal inflection, vocal volume and facial expressions, among other factors, are all key components in ensuring thorough communication.


How we deliver our message is just as crucial as the words contained within the message. Language is only one aspect of communication and is no more important than the others. Even the use of emojis does not do an appropriate job of ensuring we get our energy and intentions across. Everyone knows the girl who inserts a "smiley face" emoji after blasting someone with a blatant insult. (Which, for the record, I would like to take a moment to express that inserting a smiley face after an obviously catty comment does not make it any less of a catty comment.)

Take Shelter From Your Smartphone...

There is so much "play room" for passive-aggressive behavior within social media and text communication that people have even begun to analyze and dissect each others' use of emojis. Everything is up for analysis, and is therefore often misread. In this world we live in, we have more means than ever to make new friends and romantic conquests as well as interact with the ones we already have, yet these means bring with them a world of frustrating possibilities. We are simultaneously empowered and crippled by our communication options.

Not long ago, I had a nightmare that a freight train was coming straight toward me, absolutely out of nowhere, yet I stood on the track frozen and terrified. I have both received and witnessed others receiving text and email responses, caused by misunderstandings, which produced feelings that immensely similar to the emotion I experienced in my nightmare. We are human beings, driven by our egos, and attempting to interact and convey emotions through technological devices. Therefore, we must understand there is enormous propensity for error.

Choose Your Interpretations Wisely...

People read their texts, emails or scan through their social media news feeds and process all of the information through whichever filter they may be utilizing on that particular day. Their current circumstances are shaping their mindset at the given moment. Their mindset determines their interpretations. In fact, there have been instances where I have noticed myself reading words incorrectly, especially when in a hurry or in a negative frame of mind. I have quickly read through lengthy texts and even filled in my own versions of some of the sentences, for my brain, so conditioned to be both impatient and defensive, was anticipating what the person was attempting to convey to me. This is classic behavior within our generation.

Let's say, for example, you are having a stressful day which becomes compounded by feelings of fear in regards to an argument with a friend. When you receive a text from that friend regarding the issue at hand, you may interpret their message in a dramatically different way than they were attempting to express it to you. Your friend may have been trying to communicate their message to you with a hug, whereas you may have interpreted it as a finger pointing in your face. I actually had someone tell me once that they were not so offended by the content of my text message as they were offended by the "tone of [my] text," however there was no tone to speak of because it was a text message.

Thou Shalt Not React & Text


The point of this article is to stress the importance of avoiding communication breakdowns as much as possible. It could cost you a friend, a date, or even a job. I say this because, oftentimes, communication breakdowns seldom end with one or two misunderstood text messages or emails. In the event a person becomes offended by something they have misread or misinterpreted, they may react negatively and therefore respond by saying things that may then offend the person they were originally offended by. Such a situation has the propensity to create circumstances which may shift the dynamic of the relationship, thereby causing it to become damaged or even unsalvageable. Instead of experiencing a knee-jerk reaction to be offended by the content of a text or email someone has sent to you, ask them to clarify it for you. Defensive texting can be as catastrophic as drunk texting.

Give others the benefit of the doubt more often than assuming they meant you harm or disrespect. If you are unclear about the nature of or intention behind the communication, communicate further. Being a writer, I often feel more comfortable attempting to articulate my feelings, especially during periods of heightened emotion, through written word rather than spoken word. Sadly, I have endured more than a few unpleasant misunderstandings as a result. It is important to remember that one person's brain does not process information in the same way the next person's does. Interpretation is a powerful word, even without the additional complexity of text and email communication.

Oh, and one more thing: I promise that nothing within the body of this article was written in "that tone of voice"...

I'm just being honest.

P.S. Also, you may now insert an imaginary smiley face emoji...

Read the original and extended version of this article by Lacey Johnson on The Daily Doll.