ShareThis Page
Technology

Tips on communicating in the digital age, just in time for Valentine's Day

Aaron Aupperlee
| Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 6:15 p.m.

Be it tweets, texts, snaps, emoji or email, technology has made it easier to communicate than ever.

But it has also made it harder.

Should I call? Should I text? Twitter DM? Maybe just a Facebook message.

When should a couple become "Facebook official," and what should couples leave off Facebook and keep private?

If you wait too long to like a selfie, it's over. If you like it too quick, you're a creeper.

Navigating communication in a relationship is hard enough, but throw in the constant chirping and chatter of today's connected society and it can be rife with pitfalls, potholes, wrong turns and dead ends. But technology can also help us communicate more effectively, keep up relationships over long distances and find new relationships based on shared interests, said Janie Harden Fritz, a professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Duquesne University.

"Some people would be delighted to get text: 'Love you' or 'Can't wait to see you,' " Fritz said. "Others would like, 'I want to hear that face-to-face. It's not quite the same.' "

Fritz is not technologically savvy. She got her first cellphone in 2007. She's on LinkedIn but not active on other social media. She talks about Plato and Aristotle like they're old friends. But as communication has evolved, so have her studies and courses.

Fritz said technology has never replaced face-to-face communication. It has added to it. The telegraph and telephone added ways we could communicate. So did the internet, email, text messages and social media.

"I teach about human relationships, no matter what the modality," Fritz said. "The telephone, the cellphone, the internet, it's 'How do people find meaning in their life?' Relationships give us meaning."

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Fritz gave a few tips on how to better communicate in this digital age.

• Develop rules with your partner. Figure out when a call is expected versus a text and what should be said face-to-face. Fritz said these rules take time to develop and new couples might struggle.

• Keep private things private. Use common sense when deciding what to post for the world to see. Fritz said we've been a bit cavalier with our sharing — even developing "post sharing syndrome," a phenomenon in which we regret what we've shared moments after posting it — but she hopes as we mature with the technology, we might become a bit more thoughtful and cautious about what we share.

• Know the person's love language. Love languages are the ways people prefer to show and receive affection, whether through actions, touch, words or other ways. Fritz said once you learn a person's love language, you can use technology to express it. Just "make it count."

• Focus on the person. Whether you're face-to-face or texting while miles apart, give the people you care about your uninterrupted attention. If you're out on a date, put the cellphones away so that no one can intrude on that moment, Fritz said.

"Make that person the only person in your world at that moment," Fritz said. "Let that person know that you care."

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me