There always seems to be an argument over whether electronic communications are good or bad for our communication skills with other people. I’m going to ignore that debate for this, and talk about something else.
The benefit to not seeing, not being near, and not knowing when, something you communicate to another person will be seen, opened, heard, or otherwise received. Or, to go a step farther, communicating with them in real time, but not being with them. Even videoconferencing, as compared to phone communications.
Namely, fear. We may hate or love someone, but both feelings and more have something in common: they all can influence how we communicate with others in person. Knowing who is listening, and even how they are listening, affects our communication. Speaking to a live person, though, rates near the top in terms of fear. I’m not speaking of fear badly; I mean the concern for our own words, actions, and image as we speak. The innate worries that we adjust on the fly. It’s natural, and sometimes a very, very good thing.
But it isn’t always helpful. We may really, really need to say something. And that is the beauty of indirect communication. Formulate a thought, articulate it, then revise, and finally publish. Our once-crude idea has flourished, and the receiver can clearly understand what we had originally wanted to say, but couldn’t think of.
And then there is inhibition. Like it or not, inhibition is lowered when there isn’t direct contact. You can be bold, because if what you say isn’t heard favorably, you don’t have to see the reaction right away. And it may be that what you said is inflammatory at first, but after a few hours of digestion it becomes clearer.
Of course, considering that most indirect communication is missing inflection and emotional gestures that we can only provide and clue-in during face-to-face contact, there are definite drawbacks. But let’s not forget that indirect can be useful. It can also be amazing.
Writing a novel is one of the great indirect communications. A few hours of words, compiled over months of work. It says things we think, but in words we could never articulate on the spur of the moment. Truths we believe, but wouldn’t be able to explain aloud if asked. Loves, hates, joys, sorrows, all compressed into a truthfully tiny volume.
Indirect, but its reward is one of the greatest.
409 words I could have used in a novel.