Text messaging is often the fastest way to communicate with friends and acquaintances, but it’s not always the best one. Especially when it comes to texting with guys. Here at Crushable we aim to help you sift through all the subtext and emerge relatively unscathed – with a little help from our friend Amanda Ernst.
I had been thinking that my reliance on texting was making me crave constant communication with my friends as well as the guys I was dating, so I thought I would try to cut back the amount I texted daily. I decided to test my theory for a week. Would my conversations (even text conversations) be more meaningful if I had fewer of them every day? I hoped a short experiment would open my eyes to a better way to communicate — or show me that it didn’t really matter anyway. My conclusion: I still think texts have their place, but I have more of an appreciation for phone calls that I used to think were cumbersome and required too much attention. Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing.
There are people who like to rag on me for being so hard on texting. But don’t get me wrong — I use texts all the time, and I agree that it’s a less awkward form of communication than talking on the phone or even face to face. But after years of letting texts replace other, more personal forms of communication, I’m starting to rethink my methods. Commenter Abby said something that hit home for me:
“I purposely didn’t text my friends about something that had happened in my day so that I could call them about it later. I was excited to talk about this thing and didn’t want to lessen it by just sending a ‘It was so great’ text. Later on when we talked on the phone, I was able to go into better detail, they asked questions, we laughed, etc. It was more fulfilling. It really does pay off in the end to be patient and wait. A text might give you instant gratification but a verbal converstation’s will last a lot longer.”
I started my test on a Tuesday. Right off the bat I was trying to make plans with a guy, and he called me a few times to nail down specifics. Had he been reading my column? Regardless, I like his style. At one point I missed a call from him, and he left a message. I decided that no one leaves voicemails any more. Even I’m guilty of it. And thanks to texting, emails and BBMs, the only voicemails I ever seem to get on my cell any more are from this particular guy and my mom. I made a mental note to leave more voicemails.
On Friday, I rushed out of work before I could say good-bye to a coworker who was leaving. I texted her — I’m going to say I did it because I knew she would be busy finishing up work for the day, but ultimately it was just easier to talk to her that way. I could feel myself rebelling against my self-imposed text restrictions.
To make up for it, I called a friend who I was making dinner plans with that night. I figured I would get his voicemail. He answered. “Can I call you back?” he asked immediately. “It’s too hot and my brain is fried. I need to stop and relax for an hour or so.” Generally, I hate when people answer the phone just to say, “I’m sorry, can I call you back in a few?” Because, I figure, if you’re busy just let it go through to voicemail. But in this case, it was refreshing. I wasn’t ready to make definite plans but just wanted to touch base. So my call accomplished my goal. My friend did as he promised and called me back — he didn’t text! — and we made plans to meet up. But, on the way, I texted him to let him know I was running late.
Over the weekend, a friend texted me asking about my plans for the night. Lazily, I texted him back. Was it worth a phone call? That probably would have been easier. Ultimately, all my pledge to text less did was make me stop and think — each time I received or sent a text — about calling that person instead. About half the time I did call, and the rest I just texted.
Near the end of my week, I was back to making plans with my guy again. This time, we did it all by text. It was the middle of the day and it was just easier that way. “Hey, this text messaging thing isn’t so bad,” he wrote as we settled on plans for the evening. And, despite all my ranting to the contrary, I had to agree.
Would you give up texting for a week? Have you ever tried to cut down on the amount you text or waited to call someone to talk instead of texting them immediately? Should I stop being a baby and give up texting altogether to test my theory? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and you might see them featured in an upcoming installment of Textual Healing.