Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why I'm Roughly 90% Done With Texting

I was watching Night at the Museum 2 with the kids at work today, and one part in particular really stuck out to me.

The former nightguard is talking to Teddy Roosevelt, and his phone buzzes.  Instead of waiting for the conversation to end, he pulls out his phone and replies, interrupting Teddy mid-sentence.  But, when he looks up from his phone, he realizes his lost his opportunity.

I've seen this movie a dozen times, but that never hit me like this before.  I always just took it as the movie's way of implying that he works too much and his job is too important.  And perhaps, that's the point the movie was trying to make.  After all, it came out in 2009, before cell phone addiction was wildly prevalent.

None of that mattered to me today, though.  the first thought that hit me tonight was "Huh, I wonder how many times I've done that to people before."

The answer kind of made me sad.  It's funny, how texting puts phone interaction over human interaction.

I'm not judging people who text, at all.  I am one of those people.  I spend likely over an hour a day typing messages back and forth.  And here's my secret.  The deep, dark secret I don't usually share with the world.

I actually hate texting. *Cue large dramatic gasp.*

Honestly, though.  It feels like an obligating most of the time.  Like, if you text me, I'm obligated to reply, even when I don't have time to talk or just don't feel like talking.  And, more so, everything gets misinterpreted the wrong way over text.  I've almost destroyed several relationships because of the way things sounded over text.  Because I couldn't hear their voice or see their face.  I got mad over words on a screen - words they might never have said out loud.  But it doesn't matter.  Because I've let those words on a screen control my life.

Now.  There are many merits to texting.  First off, it's fast and simple.  It's an easy way to convey information and get a quick answer.  And, you can do it around people without the whole world overhearing a conversation.  It's very convenient.  And I don't have any issues with using it, for convenience sake, or to have a quick conversation, or when something is going on but you can't visit or call up a person.  Obviously, sometimes it's just easier to text.  It's a great thing, and a great blessing we have. (Thus, why I said in the title that I'm 90% done with texting.  I'm definitely not completely done with it.)

My problem is when texting steps outside its role of fast, easy communication, and starts to replace normal conversation altogether.  I don't think it was ever meant to replace a face-to-face (or even over the phone) conversation.  When messages on a screen, without expression or tone, become more important than real interactions, there's a problem.

I'm not calling anyone out.  If anything, I'm calling myself out.

I love the random little texts I'll get from my boyfriend throughout the day, the little updates about class and going-ons at college.  But not every text has to be turned into a full conversation.  I don't have to be texting him right as everything happens.  Instead, it's healthier for us to call each other frequently, and just talk about how things are going - rather than try to explain it all over text.

I came to the realization this evening that things were the way they should be, texting-wise, over the summer.  Let me rewind.  I often consider last summer to be the best time of my life.  I woke up at 6:30, would text my boyfriend for ten minutes to wake myself up, and then went for a run.  Then, I headed to work for eight hours, where I would have no attachment to my phone (except maybe to take pictures.)  After work, I went home and either went to hang out with friends, spent time with my family, read a book, or called my boyfriend to talk about how our days were.

Notice what's missing?  The incessant texting.  Obviously, I still texted.  A lot, even.  But it didn't replace real communication.  Not in the slightest.

I want the summer back (for a number of reasons.  It really was the best.) and, in order to do that, I'm going to have to fight to get real communication back.  Besides, I work four days a week, run, tutor, participate in a play, and lead at church.  On top of taking several difficult classes.  I don't have time to be clicking away on my phone.

How do you change? Simple.  You just do it.  It doesn't happen overnight.  But it will happen, if you fight for it.  So, I'm going to set my phone aside and focus on living life.  I'm going to invest in real communication, and text only when necessary.

I'm going to stop missing those opportunities and conversations that float around.  I'm going to set down my phone and see how my life is changed.  I challenge you to do the same.

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