Recognize that the more sensitive the communication, the more to the right you should travel. Obviously, you would never communicate a confidential matter to a friend via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., as other eyes would be upon it. Likewise, every time we send a digital message we need to remember that it has the potential of being spread instantaneously around the world. The Proverbs say, “Discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you” (Prov. 2:11). So as you weigh the sensitivity of a matter, the more careful you need to be, the farther to the right you should travel.
In my youth, I only had three typical ways to communicate with another person. I’m not speaking of mass communication, but of talking to an individual. What were those ways? I could meet face-to-face. I could write a letter. I could call on the phone. Life was pretty simple when I was young.
Sure, there were other means to interact. Some might mention carrier pigeons, but that’s just another way to deliver a letter. Still, others would say there were walkie-talkies or ham radios. But to keep this real, those forms of communication were just variations of what a telephone gives us – a sound (phone) coming from afar (tele).
But in today’s Digital Age, the options by which we can communicate have multiplied and become more complex. Though there is a myriad of ways to do the following, we could probably boil these additional means of communication down into three categories. I can email a person. I can text. Or I can use the various forms of social media to speak to him or her. I may do these activities on a phone but, oh my, they are much different than a phone call.
Again, remember in this exercise we are only thinking of the routes of personal conversation and not mass communication such as publishing a book or writing a blog article. With that given, what is the best form of communicating at a given time?
To help us, think of the above six ways available for us to speak to another person as a six-lane highway. On an expressway, typically slower traffic is on the right as faster traffic passes on the left. If you think of communication like driving a car on a highway, you have to consider such factors as time, safety, consideration of others around you, etc. With this in mind, we might position these six forms of communication in the following lanes as they indicate both the speed of delivery and the risk of a “crash”, i.e., words wrongly impacting the intended recipient or others that could be involved.
To justify some of these lanes, I would say a letter (Lane 2) is in a safer lane than an email (Lane 4) because a letter is less likely to be seen by someone else and takes longer to write than typing an email.