The text message.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been communicating this way for close to ten years now. For myself, it’s difficult to remember what communication was like before having this luxury. Text messaging has crept into the lives of almost every generation. We even have the option of voice text messaging (which seems to combine the best of texting and a phone call into one).
But sometimes I wonder if text messaging hasn’t created a monster in me. I often cringe when I’m getting a phone call. Why? I can’t fully explain it. It’s not because I don’t like talking to people (because anyone who knows me well knows how much I love to talk). And it’s not because I don’t like hearing someone’s voice. Here are three reasons I’ve preferred texting over talking.
- Multi-tasking. When I communicate via text, I can work or finish whatever task or project is before me. Phone conversations pull me away from the task, directing my attention toward listening and responding to the other person.
- Emotional barriers. It’s easier to hide my emotions via text message. Whether angry, depressed, anxious, or frustrated, I can mask my emotions through a text message when I don’t want others to hear what I might really be thinking or feeling.
- Relational boundaries. Via text message, I can only invite someone so far into my reality. It’s easier to cut off a text message (or just not respond) than a real-life conversation.
So you may now be thinking But are these good reasons? Though there are positive parts of all three, these reasons can also be harmful. Here are three counter thoughts to consider.
- We need real-life human interaction and communication. People need us to listen. And we need people to listen to us. Sometimes a good, old-fashioned phone call is where it’s at. Even better – real-life, quality time together.
- There are times when others need to hear or see our emotions. When we mask our emotions, we allow feelings to fester, which can cause more harm along the way. It’s healthy to be real and honest with others.
- Everyone deserves honesty (and a response within reasonable amount of time). If we don’t want certain people to be a part of our real lives, then we shouldn’t tease or entertain them as such via text messaging.
As I wrestle through this myself, I challenge us all to be intentional with communication. Make healthy choices about what is “text appropriate” and what is “phone call worthy.” Ultimately, choose to communicate well – it will take you far.