Textual Healing

Alright, I have to admit it: Sometimes I really hate texting.

Sure, it allows me to talk to my best friends in Greece and New Haven like they’re sitting right next to me, but it also gives me reason to be obsessive. I find myself ascribing these little grammarless, spur-of-the-moment messages too much importance. I analyze text messages like holy texts, WHICH IS COMPLETELY CRAZY.

We live in a culture of instant gratification–we hate waiting–and texting is a result of this. We don’t have time call someone on the phone, or email them, or post them a letter, or go to their house but we still want to talk to them. RIGHT THIS SECOND. So, we send them alphabet soup (OMG my BFF JILL totes luvs u!) while our professor drones on about Conceptual Art in the 21st Century. But every time you press that send button, the gods of real conversation cry bitter, bitter tears. In actuality, text messaging is detrimental to our communication with others.

1) At least 60% of what we want to say is conveyed through body language/voice inflection. You have to be able to see and hear the person to read these signals. So even with emoticons, non-verbal communication is completely neglected.

2) While most people love to talk, most people find texting utterly annoying. Hence, someone’s lack of response to your message is probably only a product of their hate of texting, not of you. But still, this miscommunication can cause fights and resentment.

3) While conversations are active, texting is mostly passive. You can ignore a text and respond in your own sweet time. But text messaging makes us more passive and rude in our face-to-face conversations! Often we forget to make eye-contact, to acknowledge someone’s presence.

4) Conversations happen in real time, in the real world. Text happens in your phone or computer, in the cyber world. Sure, some of you out there studying Augmented Reality may argue that the technology world is just an extension of the physical world. But to us laymen, the cyber world suspends the constraints we put on the physical world, like time and space. Thus, it suspends reality and confuses messages and meaning.

5) Conversation can inform on the factual and on emotional level while texting can only convey flat fact. Still, we’ve begun using text messages for dating and talking to family and giving advice–for things that are heavy with connotation. Uh…duh! It’s no wonder things get misinterpreted!

So, stop obsessing over a text message (or lack of text message) from your boyfriend, or your mom, or your best friend. If you want to have an actual conversation and/or get to know someone, it’s time to meet up with them in person. Call them or invite them over. Trust me, it will save you stupid, pointless anxiety. Hearing a lovely voice and seeing a smiling face is way better than staring at your iPhone screen anyhow.

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