David Trinko: Perils of unreliable forms of communication

I can’t explain why, but I think our mobile phone provider wants my wife and me to fight.

I received a text message from her the other day that didn’t make sense to me.

“Oh,” the message said. “Weird. So reffing another pool?”

For context, there was no context. I hadn’t received another message from her in nearly 10 hours. I had just talked to her on the phone briefly, when she said she needed to reboot her device and would talk to me soon.

I responded the best way I knew how.

“No idea what this means,” I replied.

Unbeknownst to me, we’d fallen for the carrier’s ploy.

My wife responded back with a perplexed, “Huh?”

Before long, we started a phone conversation to try to clear up our text conversation.

She thought my response of “no idea what this means” was my response to her having to hang up quickly to reboot her phone, which was being grumpy about finding a signal in our town. She thought I was overreacting to her having to end a conversation.

I thought my message was in response to the strange message about reffing. That’s the really strange part of this story. She never sent that message, at least not that day.

We had to rebuild a bit of trust on it. I sent her a screenshot of what I saw, with the phantom message on the list. She sent me her own screenshot, without it on the list.

As far as we can tell, there might’ve been an undelivered message sometime in the past about our one daughter, who plays club volleyball, needing to referee in another pool at a tournament. Maybe. That’s our best guess.

It reminds you how much we rely on these sometimes unreliable technologies for communication.

My wife and I are generally very good at communicating. We often drive together on our way into work, filling the trip each way with stories, ideas and plans. We’ll usually text throughout the day with important updates, knowing we’re each fairly busy during our days and can process the messages whenever we have free time.

If a couple that expresses its ideas that well to one another can be tripped up for a bit, who’s safe?

I love the written word, for certain. Yet incidents remind us how tenuous it can be.

We’ve all read too much emotion into an email or a text message at some point. Those methods of communication can be like tofu, absorbing whatever flavor of emotion you’re feeling at the time. You can read the same message hours later and come away with an entirely different reaction.

In our post-pandemic era, so many people seem to want to work and play remotely. Knowing these gaps in communication exist, that really concerns me. How many issues could be cleared up with a simple phone call or a face-to-face interaction?

We do have to be careful out there in our communications. Some relationships are too important to mess up, even if our text message goblins seem to want to trip us up.

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By David Trinko

The Lima News


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

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David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.