I hate texting.
There, I said it. Let me say it again, for good measure: I HATE TEXTING!
My friends everywhere are probably booing and hissing at this, unless I’ve already told them about my intense dislike for texting. Perhaps you are also booing and hissing? I know, I know: I’m probably in the minority here. But let me explain.
I see texting as extremely functional but lacking in civility or politeness. Or at least that seems to be the case with the texts that I receive. Texting is useful for quick bites of information: “Be there in 10 minutes.” “Brunch at 11?” “What’s your address?” Texting can be efficient, and I recognize its utility. But what texting fails to do for me is to foster a sense of connection. Here’s why.
* People rarely use greetings in a text. I wish they would say hello. Instead, it’s usually straight to business, which speaks to my point above about quick bites of info.
* People whom I barely know assume texting is okay. IT IS NOT OKAY. If I’ve called you once, do not be so sure that I’ve stored you in my address book and thus know if it’s you who has texted me. When I get a text from an unfamiliar number that says, “At HEB. Need anything?” I assume it was sent to the wrong number. Because who texts me from the grocery store? Nobody, that’s who.
* People use texting to ask me out or even to ask for sex. I know that the medium is not the message, but seriously: if we barely know each other, texting is not the way to my heart. Texting is the coward’s way of asking. I feel really strongly about this issue. If someone is going to ask me out, I prefer that they do it in real time, either in person or over the phone. I think that conversations in real time facilitate intimacy and honesty—I like the dance of words and feelings that flutter back and forth in a delicate or racy conversation. Compared to how rich the exchange can feel in real time, texting just falls flat.
But here I’ll admit that e-mail can also be a great medium for intimate conversations. I think I still prefer to be asked out in real time, but at least e-mail is conducive to long letters. And you know me: I’m anything but concise most of the time. It’s part of my charm, right? Also, I love romantic letters.
* Most texts are not written in plain English. They use all these cloying abbreviations, like “u” for “you.” I hate that. I probably do it sometimes, but still, I hate it.
* People use texting as a way to avoid having conversations in real time. I think this relates to my point above about dating, but it also applies to friends. I think we should ask ourselves why we’re comfortable texting but not making a telephone call. What’s the relationship you are fostering by texting instead of calling? If you’re sending these texts to me, the message I’m getting is that you don’t want to talk to me. In which case, I start to wonder if we’re really friends.
To be fair, and perhaps to end on a more positive note, I’ll say it again: texting has its utility. My sister-in-law, who has two little kids, has an easier time sending a text than finding the quiet to make a phone call. I get that. Texting is very, very useful in loud places or anywhere you simply can’t make a phone call. And my niece has recently discovered texting with a passion and sends me the most adorable texts with long strings of “xoxoxoxoxo.” It is too cute.
You should know, if you send me texts and I send you a text back, it is a nod to how much I like you. I think as a medium of communication, I will never love texting the way I love e-mail, phone calls, or an in-person conversation. But I tolerate it, and I refuse to answer texts as I see fit.