My coworker Joël and I were today discussing the different ways we can communicate and how “serious” each was. From lightest-weight / most innocuous to most intimate and serious, we came up with the following:
- Facebook poke, friending someone on Facebook
- Twitter @person, Facebook wall post or picture comment, MySpace comment
- Twitter direct message, Facebook message, MySpace message
- Instant message
- SMS / phone text message
- Attending the same event
- A phone or Skype conversation
- Meeting one-on-one
- Handwriting a letter
This is hopefully a helpful guide for people deciding how meaningful a communication with another person is. It’s sorted almost directly by emotional weight as well as exposure and intimacy with the other – for instance, knowing someone’s handle doesn’t expose much, but their phone number is a more personal thing (and harder to control), and a home address even more so.
It’s amazing to me that handwritten letters are effectively the most esteemed and valuable forms of communication to our generation. I probably receive a full handwritten letter in the mail about once every other year and it’s always a profound experience. In high school, I’d send and receive several a week.
It may be an interesting reflection to note that I can barely write legibly and my hand cramps now after about a paragraph. I just never use those pen muscles anymore.