On not texting.
I gave it my all. I did not compose a single text message on my phone this week. The following fragments piece togetheran insight of what the adventureclubinteractive X text assignment gave back to me.
The context of communication.
It is worth stating that everybody has their own unique personality. Everybody has their different opinions, from which they make different decisions based on different personal values, different experiences. It naturally follows, that everybody has different ways of communicating these preferences as well.
The purpose of communication is to exchange ideas. We interact in order to share ideas. We give and receive back. We transfer our enthusiasms, we inspire. We relate our sorrows, we empathize. We relay knowledge, gather new knowledge. We express ourselves to others and let others impress themselves upon us. Innovations in technology have made available so many methods by which we are able to communicate. But are these methods, like text messaging sacrificing great value? We can communicate faster and farther away but, counter-intuitively, are we actually interacting less? The phone took away our facial expressions; the email stole our voices. A further abbreviation is the text message. I fear it has taken away our mannerisms and our style, our personalities and perhaps our language too.
Two days into not texting, I became aware of the obvious. I realized that when somebody sends me a text message I have a choice. This is nothing new but I think we take it for granted. The choice is simple: to reply or not to reply.
I think we have forgotten that it is our right to reply or not to reply. Phones that are smart (I dislike “smart phones”) became accessible to anyone and everyone at a furiously fast pace. It’s as though we never received the pamphlet explaining the laws that we never voted on. It’s as though they were invisibly written by our collective participation. They were written in a code that we have come to uphold and adhere to without realizing it. As though, long ago we waived our individual right to decide for ourselves. The code comes with so many expectations that eventually you forget (if) you ever had a choice at all.
1.) Expectations of a typical text message: “What are you doing?”
-It’s a question. When you are asked something you are obliged to answer.
-You have to stop what you are doing to text about what you (were) doing.
2.) Expectations are programmed with failure:
-Your reply is subjective to the judgment of the recipient. Perhaps they felt your answer was insignificant. Perhaps they were looking for you to expand on the message, by posing another question back at them. But why were you expected to assume this? You just answered the question, “Not much,” and went back to whatever else you were doing in real life.
-If you are not timely with your reply you might come off as careless. The person could be really, really anxious to know “What are you doing?” But why are you expected to tell them immediately?
-If you are doing something really great, too bad for your faceless friend that isn’t there. Why are you expected to stop doing something really great just to text someone that isn’t there about it?
3.) People were suspicious, skeptical, bored and not willing to consider trying it for themselves, when I explained to them why I was not texting for a week.
-I didn’t try at all to convince anybody to try it for themselves but I could tell right away, in the shadows that crossed their faces, that they were silently preparing a speech to defend their reasons for why they didn’t want to try it for themselves.
4.) Not being able to text message back to a group text message was like reading a gossip magazine. I knew I wasn’t going to chip in on any of what was texted, so I read all the text messages from the point of an observer. I felt like a spy.
5.) It was like going on a diet. When you cut one thing out, you find substitutes.
-I fed on more quiet time, writing down notes to myself instead of texting forgettable one-liners.
-I took time to enjoy (like a proper meal) every phone conversation and I went out of my way twice to make an occasion of interaction (like going out for a meal). I met up with two friends instead of texting two friends.
-When you feel like you’re starving, you get creative. On day two I resorted to sending a Facebook message because, of course, I couldn’t text and it wasn’t appropriate at the time, to be talking on the phone. The next day, (I was getting really hungry) I wrote a couple hours worth of emails.
From day three on, I made a choice to call back anyone who texted me. If I didn’t have time to, I wouldn’t force it. When I had the time, I did it. Communication is challenging for most of us because it does take time and effort. We know that texting is convenient for being instant. But it should not be confused with efficient. Nor should it be considered equally valuable.
If I call back my reply to the friend that texted, “What are you doing?” I answer with a few dozen words, and it doesn’t take a couple of minutes to say quite a lot. What’s more, my friend can hear things in my voice when I talk- perhaps a tiredness, maybe excitement. These textures cannot be communicated by text message. Amazingly, if you add up the time it takes to text a sentence and receive a sentence back, you notice there is nothing timely about it. Likely, a couple of minutes are lost in the waiting between texts. Overall, the same amount of was time spent and a lot less information was exchanged.
If the world is a stage, then we are all actors. Text messaging has made screenwriters of us all. I worry with so many writers there are now too many soap operas…
Formal betrayed Language and Rich ran out on Text. Grammar got locked out for the night (after night after night…) The English Manners (the notorious family that everyone used to rely on) rarely show up at the dinner table anymore. When they do, they give off airs of having returned from a long stay, somewhere foreign, far away. Where they got used to speaking with an accent. Now they speak fast and in fewer sentences. Now they abbreviate. Now they use acronyms. They talk out of turn without waiting for between bites. They talk while taking them.
I saw, at a garage sale a cordless telephone brand new in its box for a dollar. I wanted to buy it because it seemed so antique. I didn’t buy it because then I would have to set up a land line through the phone company. And who wants to make any more commitments (than they already dislike having) with the phone company?