Brief: On Communication, Its Mediums, and Anxiety

I have noticed something about myself in the last couple months or so when it comes to expression and communication of my thoughts: I’m at my best when I communicate with someone in person.

This is not true one hundred percent of the time. Just as easily as I find myself able to communicate with someone while in their presence through non-verbal means, I often find difficulty in communicating more complicated thoughts and feelings through speech. I tend to stutter, trip over my words, and even seize up mid-sentence trying to come up with a particular term or phrase. And still there are also moments when I almost instantly forget what point I am trying to get across or where I was going with my thought processes.

Is it possible that the prospect of sharing my thoughts with someone who is with me, there and then, is sometimes so overwhelming that I make a fool out of myself? To an extent, I certainly believe so, especially when it comes to women with whom I share commonality. I was an awkward, misanthropic teenager once, and my experience dating (and, until just a couple of years ago, the opposite sex) was not only limited but also narrow.

But this isn’t a write-up on whatever woes I may or may not have faced (or may be facing now) in the realm of dating. Hell, just interacting with people outside of my close-knit circle of friends was daunting for years, and to an extent it still is. Sure, my confidence has seen a stellar rise alongside my understanding of social interaction and my ability simply to interact with people I had never met before, but I still have trouble making simple phone calls out of anxiety of talking to someone I do not know, or sending a message to a woman I am interested in out of fear that I may be bothering her or coming on just a bit too strong.

What also does not help is the instantaneous nature of instant messaging—either through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or simply texting—putting an unnecessarily added pressure on me, personally. The person I am messaging knows I have seen their message, and is almost certainly awaiting a response then and there. At least, that is what I fear. So I attempt to compose a response. Then I delete it and start over. Then I hesitate, and delete the second half with a follow-up question. Maybe I ramble on with some extraneous details based on my experience with whatever we are going back and forth about and I apologize for such ramblings at the end of the message.

Maybe I end up putting something in the message that I do not usually put, and the lack of a response seems damning. It fuels those anxieties and insecurities I have about myself.

But had the message been received differently if our conversation were to have been in person, where we could hear each other’s tone of voice and observe each other’s facial expressions and body language? Perhaps. Love them or hate them, an emoji can only do so much. I am not much of a fan of them, personally, but to each their own.

Then there is this: prose. Or blog. However you wish to describe what you are currently reading. This form of communication is a direct transmission of thoughts and expression, yes, but to nobody in particular and with no expectation of response. Hell, if anything the intention of writing this is to simply vent. I can take my time to think about the words I type here. I can think about what I am trying to say and how I say it. Far less pressure.

Communication is important not so much as a means of keeping up with people but as a form of expression. New and evolving mediums allow for new forms of communication. The Internet opened the floodgates for this, and I am thankful for that.

I use different mediums for different information. To set up a meeting, I may use social media or a text. To check up on someone, I would use those or a phone call. Discussing important plans and information? Most likely voice chat on Skype or Discord. Emotions, hopes, dreams, fears, or insecurities (the heavy stuff), I try to handle in person.

You get the full content and context of what someone says when you are with them. When you can use all of your senses to determine what they really say.

It’s how you really get to know them.

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