I answered the following question this evening on the FAQ blog for the course I’m teaching this semester, “Technology 4 Teachers” at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Question:

Does texting or blogging remove the emotional side of interacting with each other?  In other words, if someone is crying you would not know.

Answer:

Writing with text alone undoubtedly changes communication dynamics, since at a minimum the non-verbal language normally present in face-to-face communication is absent. People do find ways to compensate for this, however, and one way people show emotion when typing is by USING ALL CAPS. This is considered “shouting” in an email or text message, and is generally poor form. The English WikiPedia article for “all caps” addresses this a little, and also provides a link to the related “Netiquette” page.

An excellent new television series by PBS Frontline started on February 2, 2010, titled “Digital Nation.” This question of emotion in writing and the ways digital communication is perhaps changing social skills as well as norms is addressed in several of the online video clips, including this one titled, “Rewiring Young Brains.” It’s important to recognize, when viewing this clip, that the speaker does not cite research, he just basically says, “I’m worried about this.”

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