Texting has become THE method of communication for the Millennium generation. Being old and decrepid as I am, texting isn’t a big part of my life, but I have two twenty-something daughters, one married with a 2-year old, the other a single professional.
I’ve never understood the whole fascination with texting — it’s a handy tool to send quick messages, I get that — but on the communication scale it rates poorly in my opinion, compared to face to face encounters or even talking on the phone.
Why? Because a text is simply words on a screen. There’s no visual — no facial expression or body language — and no auditory, i.e. intonation, tone of voice. Considering that visual and auditory expression make up 90% of human communication, you can see how texting might not rate very high as a communication tool.
My married daughter recently got rid of her landline, and now carries an iPhone. She loves her new phone, but recently complained to me that she’s more stressed out, because now she’s available to everyone 24/7. She can’t say she didn’t hear the phone — it’s in her back pocket.
She receives a ton of texts from friends — cute messages about what they’re up to, instagrams with cute photos. Of course, she feels compelled to message back and comment, every time.
Sometimes she’s not in the mood to comment. She’s running after her two-year old, or shopping for groceries, or plain exhausted lying on the couch. So even though she might not really feel it, she messages back with a smiley face and makes a comment. If you were to call her on the phone you’d probably hear the fatigue in her voice, but hell, it’s just a text, so she can fake it.
My single daughter’s relationships always start off with a flurry of texting, and she rates her potential boyfriends on how often they text, how quickly they answer back and whether they bother to use emoticons. She’s met a few guys on dating sites who only wanted to text, and weren’t interested in meeting in person. She’s met guys socially who texted her furiously for about a week — very nice texts that would indicate they’re interested in her — only to cancel an upcoming date (by text, of course) and then drop off the face of the earth.
The only conclusion I can come to is that texting allows a person to say whatever they want, even if they don’t mean it, since they don’t have to make much of an effort. They can text a smiley face, when in fact they’re actually scowling, or put ‘LOL’ when they’re not laughing out loud. This gives the receiver of the message the impression the other person finds them charming, interesting and funny as hell, when actually they don’t.
What do you think? Am I overthinking the texting thing, or could this generation learn a thing or two about social courtesy and communication?