Texting: the next embarassing addiction
Published: Monday, February 23, 2009
Updated: Sunday, September 13, 2009 07:09
Imagine a Friday night trip to the bar during which no one in your party sends or receives text messages.
Cell phone jammers, devices that block radio signals, would certainly create this atmosphere, but the high price of the technology and the illegality of its use makes a text-free night out very unlikely.
Unlikelihood aside, what would happen if we could not text?
Perhaps the biggest challenge would be finding actual conversation to fill the gaps that a lack of texting would create. In a recent Washington Post online article, texting was identified as an extremely prevalent issue for young people. While the article identified a teenage female who sent 6,473 messages in one month, the more than 2,000 messages per month average for the 13-17 age group is equally unsettling.
While parents and scholars focus texting concerns on teenagers, it seems that texting is more damaging to our college age group. A teenage boy can spread compromising photos of his girlfriend through texts, but he could do the same with a Xerox machine. It is a new form of an old issue.
Texting in the college forum does not encompass old habits; it creates a new, but certainly not improved, way to communicate and avoid communication. It might be difficult for many of us to remember the last time we went to a movie, had dinner with some friends, or enjoyed a car ride that did not include at least half of the participants sending text messages.
Indeed, texting has become a crutch that allows us to avoid awkward social situations. It does not cover the same territory as talking on the phone; we would not see 70 percent of a group at a bar or restaurant actually making a call.
Similar to Facebook and MySpace, texting changes the way we communicate with people. Texting, however, gives us a mobile format.
Instead of answering a phone call, we text. When we do not want to bother the intended recipient of our communication, we text.
Of course, texting is used with good intentions. It is far better etiquette to text rather than make an actual call in a movie theater, restaurant or waiting room.
Unfortunately, the large majority of texting does not seem to stem from etiquette concerns. While causation might be difficult to establish, it is reasonable to argue that there is a definite correlation between texting and a fear of real speech.
It is used as a way to ask for undeserved favors, break up with someone, send pointless messages and cover up drunkenness. All of these seem to point to both the cowardly nature and self-importance of our text-addicted generation.
As we text, we send non-verbal messages that clearly state how bored we are and how many other friends we have waiting for us. Sending text messages to someone outside of the here and now, whether it be an ex-boyfriend or a co-worker, signifies that the here and now is not really worth our attention.
When all the fuss about new technology and convenience is stripped away, texting is oftentimes unnecessary and usually downright offensive.
It lacks the authenticity of a real conversation, introduces strange abbreviations known only to text clique elites and dominates our time in public and private.
Perhaps it is time we break the law and start using cell phone jammers, or better yet, just stop texting so much. Texting feeds our bare minimum communication addiction and makes us seem at best quite disconnected and at worst quite rude and snobbish.
The time has come for some old-fashioned conversation. Though we might be afraid to admit it, trading "brb" and "lmao" for eye contact and a good, audible laugh might be very refreshing.