In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World.”
“If this is going to be more than 5 minutes worth of texting, I’m just going to dial your number instead of playing around!”
There are always exceptions to that statement, but for the most part I’m not a fan of trying to communicate with someone via text message. I cherish those times when someone will just out of the blue send you that note saying “I miss you” or “Thinking of you”. But just as often people use it as an artificial barrier to truly communicating. Why would you want someone to learn bad news via a text message? People around me know I’m not a fan, so they email. It may not be as personal, but damn if it isn’t better than 140 characters of emoticons and poor grammar.
I know of one acceptable set of circumstances when it has been a good experience. Both of us were at work and lacked the ability to pick up the phone. But with this friend, we never would have been able to have this conversation face to face. It was just easier. So she sat in her classroom watching over a bunch of rowdy high school kids and I was behind the confines of my desk in my office. We must have gone back and forth for an hour over how to deal with an issue. The messages weren’t clipped collections of words, but fully realized thoughts. Long sentences where I understood her point of view without needing to read between the lines of smiley faces and thumbs up. It dealt with a very serious topic, and we were able to make it work because we both knew how to handle communicating.
The flip side is having someone go into hiding and send one line texts with no ability to reply. Ending any relationship, unless you are 14, via a one line text is childish. Part of being an adult is knowing that you have to deal with life, even the unpleasant sides, by looking someone in the face and saying something. You don’t walk away from 10 years by saying “Don’t contact me again”. Especially after I have spent the previous couple of days taking you to various doctors appointments! [okay, maybe that is a very specific example! But it happened none the less.]
Communication takes effort. Everything in life is about communicating with those around you. Sometimes it’s a letter in the mail talking about nothing. Just something out of the blue because that person was on your mind. I used to talk to my mother’s father every Sunday night growing up. It didn’t matter where I was living at the time, every Sunday around 6 p.m. the phone would either ring, or it was being dialed. A race to see who got there first. When I was younger the calls were about silly stuff, they got more interesting as I got older. Unfortunately they ended when I was 18.
I have a book that is a collection of letters written between Abigail Adams and John Adams during the times they were apart. My Dearest Friend. Sure the letters took days to get to there intended spot, weeks before some replies made it back. But they kept their relationship alive because of those letters. Love, loss, hardships, family and friends all captured without the limitations of a handheld screen. Pages upon pages of talking, even when they weren’t in the same room. Sometimes the same continent. Ironically this was a gift from my ex, wish she had read it. [disclosure, Abigail is my aunt. Small affection for everything she did.]
People look at relationships anymore as being as disposable as those devices we use to communicate. It’s hard to pick up the phone not knowing how the other person is going to respond to hearing your voice. So let’s send a text asking them to call you? Put the onus in their hands. Chicken Little in the 21st Century?
The technology that was supposed to bring us all closer, make it easier at the drop of a hat to get a hold of someone has built walls. I look at the Caller I.D. before answering, mostly to ensure some telemarketer isn’t on the other end. But why does my television have a setting allowing me to screen my calls without even looking at my phone?
I do miss those times when you had to sit in the kitchen with the phone cord pulled as far away as possible so that you could talk to some girl without mom looking over your shoulder, giggling. They may not have been earthshatteringly important calls, but they were what we had before Snapchat allowed me to send my dinner via the airwaves. [And seriously, why do people post pictures of their dinners? If you made something, maybe I can see that. But going to some restaurant and posting someone else’s creation, give it up!]
Acceptable texts –
1. Running late, be 10 min.
2. Could you pick up some milk?
3. I love you/Thinking of you
4. The meeting has been moved to Rm 213!
Unacceptable Texts –
1. Just letting you know grandma died…
2. You have a tumor in your kidney. [okay that wouldn’t happen, but still not one you want to receive!]
3. We’re done. Lose my number.
4. The baby isn’t yours/ You are the Father! [sorry again, commercial for Maury just came on. Those not in the U.S., it’s basically a televised paternity test involving a woman and potentially 5 guys. Creepy!]
You get the idea.
I doubt that most people who see this have an issue with the notion of writing. Sometimes it may be harder given the subject matter. Maybe just being nervous about the response keeps you from saying what you really think. But in the end you are doing yourself and everyone around you a favor by talking, writing long form, opening yourself up even to the painful stuff.
But that’s just my two cents!