On Writing

Are you a writer? What do you like most about your writing? I don’t consider myself a writer, or at least it’s not my favorite medium for expressing myself. You’re more likely to find me behind a paintbrush instead of a pen. Or is that too old school? Because of COVID, we are all writers, are we not? Ours is a text-based world, even though many claim video is fast outpacing text. And yet the proliferation of blogs, chat, and SMS, even old-fashioned emails still proves that text is vital for communication.

I’m dating myself here, but I remember when the phone and face-to-face communication (NOT over Zoom or Teams or FaceTime or Google Hangout or WebEx) was the way you did business. It was the way you interacted with people and created community. People preferred meeting in person for everything. Sure, companies complained about time spent in physical meetings and the expense of on-site gatherings or conferences. And, to be fair, those can be time-sucks as well as money traps. Getting a bunch of people together in one conference room sometimes meant people coming from across town to attend. Hence, a day or a half-day of “productivity” was lost due to commuting time for potentially an hour-long meeting. Conferences were another story; those lucky enough to go were the envy of those left behind because the budget wouldn’t allow for everyone to attend, and someone also had to “hold down the fort.” It was a privilege and a benefit to be able to go and “represent” the business you were a part of with like-minded people in your own industry or organization.

I think we’ve lost something by a heavy focus on text. Don’t get me wrong; writing is critical for business communication in particular. But by concentrating on text, we lose the nuances of body language and tone of voice. We are missing so much when we communicate this way, and I can’t help but wonder if it hasn’t contributed to the increased polarization in the world. All the best companies that are remote-first know this. They regularly have on-site yearly gatherings (or did pre-COVID) because they understand the need for community building and bonding with your whole self, not just your words. Community is even more critical now than ever, for it is within the social construct of community that laws are formed, morality is taught and learned, and society is built.

What do you think? Do you prefer writing? Are you a writer?

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