Posted by on Jan 1, 2006 in Complaints, Life

People used to talk to each other, but technology is putting an end to that.

When the telephone was invented, people could talk to friends and family down the street, in another state, or on the other side of the planet. Tightly knit communities began to unravel. Instead of playing with the neighborhood kids, children would talk to their friends down the street or across town. When I was younger, I spent more time on the phone with my friends than I did actually hanging out with them outside of school. It was normal. Real human interaction was taking a small hit, but people would still TALK to one another.

Well, now we have e-mail, online chatting, and worst of all, text messaging on cell phones.

I understand the convenience. It’s easy, fast, and relatively cheap. And if you’re in a crowded bar, or at a baseball game, or in a movie, or some other place where talking is not an option, text messaging is great. But here’s the problem. I get blisters trying to keep up with the long, back-and-forth text conversations that people seem to want to have on their cell phones. Is it really so difficult to call and have the same conversation in half the time?

But here’s another “advantage” of text messenging: it’s non-confrontational. Want to know if someone you like wants to go out on a second date? Text them. Want to know why someone is ignoring you? Text them. Did someone try calling you? Don’t return their call, text them.

Why? Because it’s safer. Text messaging effectively strips communication of any potential emotion, helping people avoid real conversations which might (God forbid) stir up some real emotions. Has anyone else noticed this trend? And does anyone else have a problem with this?

The trend seems strongest with young people. This generation has grown up with cell phones. People in their mid-20’s and younger have text conversations on their phones all day long. I am on the fringe. Some of my peers have gotten into the compulsive texting habit, while a few others share my disdain for it. Admittedly (and this is perhaps the driving force of this angry dialogue), girls seem to be more obsessed with text messenging than guys.

Here’s my take. When you have something important to say to someone you care about, give them the dignity of a phone call, or, if the situation calls for it, a face-to-face meeting (see my related rant about courtesy). And to all you compulsive text messengers out there, hear this: When you reduce an important issue to text messenging, you are saying to the other person one of these two things:

I am too scared to have a real conversation with you because I don’t know how to handle face-to-face interactions.


I don’t give a shit about you.

It’s 2006. There are so many ways to communicate, but people are becoming more and more isolated from one another. Am I the only one who is seeing this and disapproves?

One Comment

  1. In this speech, Sherry Turkle says that technology provides “the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” That’s the crux of it. But I’ll take it a step further and say that it’s the demands of friendship that make us human.

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