First try this simple exercise. Here’s a sample with a simple, straightforward communication:
“Hi. Are you at home?” Now spell that out loud, letter by letter, including all necessary capitalizations and punctuation, save for the quotation marks. How long did that take you? Now try typing that out with one finger on your phone. Did that save you any time? Probably not, unless you indulge in an illiterate style of written communication that would render the above as. “hi. r u @ home?” And then what? You have to wait for a response….and then reply. Conclusion; I find it neither time-saving nor easier than sending an email or making a phone call. In fact, I find it incredibly annoying. I hate most things about texting. Firstly; its glib. Sure, it’s fine for confirming plans: e.g. “Dinner at 8?” , ” R U around at 7?” Not a problem. But what do you do with ” Were the firefighters able to save your home?”, or “How are the cancer treatments coming along?”. Well, what else can one say other than “yes’ or “no” or “Fine” or “I’ll see you in the next life.” Seriously. Texting is, well, (and here I’m looking for another word for ‘rude’) a perfunctory form of communication if communicating matters to you.
Maybe I read into things too much. My mother always said I was “too heavy”, and she’s probably right. If I get a text that asks “Where are you?”, I think, ‘dear god, I’m between a rock and a hard place; a sort of midlife crisis, if you will, where things lack sense, where I need to re-discover, explore meaning and a sense of purpose, where my skills and talents can make a difference, where I can feel better about myself…” It just doesn’t occur to me to say “at the gas station”, which is what everyone else does, whether they’re at the gas station or not. They could be smoking crack and having an illicit affair with their drug dealer in a cheap hotel room.
And then, as with cell phones, there’s the whole ‘electronic leash’ aspect of things. Why, I ask, do we need to be available to everyone all the time? As I type these words I just know that the two or three remaining friends that I have are deleting my name and number from all of their devices, and I will die alone, only to be discovered by the state police after neighbors complain of strange smells coming from my house or the Audubon Society sends out volunteers to investigate and count the number of reported turkey vultures that are circling above my vegetable garden.
Other people may have a different experience, but me?, I’ve yet to receive a text message from a well qualified, independently wealthy psychotherapist working on a pro-bono basis asking me “How ARE you?”.
Having said all THAT…I’m sure I’ll be texting before you know it. It will just take some getting used to. And to my texting friends, Please, don’t give up on me yet.