There is nothing more mysterious than the reciprocal interplay of two people sharing their thoughts. The beauty of speech and gesture captures the imagination of poets, philosophers and artists. Our human nature depends on our ability to use language. In that process there are moments when communication between people results in greater understanding and a new vision.
Communication has many facets, from the speech and gesture that constitutes face-to-face communication, to the abbreviated text available through digital devices. The taken-for-granted nature of communication is called into question when one realizes how diverse and complex the activity is. Our highly mediated environment makes that complexity more obvious by creating the potential for conundrums and confusions. For example, text messages omit a significant part of the context by eliminating intonation and gesture. It can be challenging enough to understand the message when communicating face-to-face. Reduce speech to flat text and one is left to imagine the way in which something is being “said”, increasing the potential for confusion.
Though complexity has always been part of our human experience, a highly mediated environment can make such complexity both more obvious and more problematic. The norms and conventions of communication, how we talk with whom, about what, and when, structures how we live in community. When a society introduces new technologies such as the printing press, broadcast, or digital devices, those norms and conventions will inevitably be altered.