jstanier Here be dragons.

Slack and WhatsApp considered harmful?

With communication via chat (e.g. Slack) and IM (e.g. WhatsApp) becoming more prevalent, both in the workplace and between our close personal relations, are we beginning to let the quality of our communication dip?

Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I still like well-crafted written communication, and I still like email. It gives me a chance to compose myself without “James is typing” appearing at the bottom of the recipients’ screen, which I find makes me hurry my responses. There has been a significant increase in poor quality communication as Slack usage has become the de facto means of chat at work. I don’t like receiving messages like “you there?”, I’d much prefer the person to just tell me what they want, and I’ll respond when I’m free. I’d also preferably like to talk in person, or via email if it’s a more formal matter. I find it hard to separate the feeling I get from messages like that from the ones I used to send on IRC as a teenager to people I’d never met on the Internet, or those I sent via MSN Messenger to school friends. It doesn’t feel quite right.

Similar things can be said about the quality of communication with your partner or family over these platforms. It can become very easy to slip into bad habits with rushed, frantic responses that are stolen from the space between busy moments in the day. As much as you feel that you are excused for letting your standards slip because that person knows you deeply, in the long run it can be harmful, since it can feel like neither of you care very much about taking the time to communicate properly.