I like, and even love, new technology. It does not intimidate me, except perhaps for my inability to understand how it works. Perhaps it is beyond my age of understanding. I have tried to learn as much as necessary for work and more than needed personally. Texting is one of those things that I did not immediately use; I am not an early adopter. I never texted on the T9 keyboard and would be cowed by that method. I cannot text without looking at the keyboard; and even though I can type proficiently, I am much slower texting. My husband uses the speech-to-text method, perhaps because he cannot type, and equally, because his fingers are too big for the small letters of the keyboard. My college friend used the speech-to-text with a little auto-correct thrown in and sent me a disturbing text one night. “What????” I messaged back.
I text everyday to friends and family with those quick messages and responses. I get texts from my utilities providers and notices from my charge cards and all those other companies I gave permission to contact me with a text message. I got texts from Facebook until they cluttered my inbox. I get a text if someone follows me on Twitter. Texting is the essence of our need to save time and be brief and concise or share the photo of the moment. “OK. Thanks. Coming. 412-000-000.” I resorted to texting when my kids ignored my phone calls. As I sat typing this post, my phone vibrated with an incoming message. “It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.” Who was it? My son with lyrics from “Soak Up the Sun” by Cheryl Crow. It’s his advice of the day. For me or him?
But I am troubled when people use texting as one of their main methods of communication. It is impersonal and can even feel like a stab in the back when you get an unexpected text. People would tell me about text conversations they had that seemed to be conversations deserving of the personal touch. I have received life-changing news in a text message and felt the true malice of the words in the delivery. There really are very good reasons to deliver some news in person. It reveals you as a person with empathy and respect for other human beings, and most of all, a person of courage and strength.
It may be because I was not the early adopter that I see limitations in this method of communication. You might say that this is just a generational difference, but I worry that texting is like so many other forms of electronic communications that give people an illusion of anonymity that allows them to say things they might never say in person. There are many hard things we do in life, and how we choose to do them says a lot about who we are as human beings.
What is one of the positive aspects of a text message? It is tangible and easily downloaded and archived. It is on-the-record.
Sheryl Crow. “Soak Up the Sun.” C’mon C’mon, Interscrope Geffen (A&M) Records, 2002.