I have a strong dislike for texting, but I still use it.
I have been burnt at least twice in my past by miscommunications over texting. Yet however flawed the system is, I still use text messages, primarily to plan the logistics of face-to-face conversations. At first it felt weird to say, “Let’s not text now; let’s talk in person.” However, I am glad to have understanding friends, many of whom have their own reasons for not texting. Some friends rarely respond to texts, forcing me to call them. When I was younger, the bubble I grew up in made me feel that texting a girl was okay, but phonecalls were so serious they must be policed by parents. However, when I realised that even a step from text to audio increases the area of communication, I became more comfortable with phonecalls.
I am a lover of words, and the power of communicating via text, but I do see limitations. One major limitation is talking about deep emotions, especially with a friend I have a romantic interest in. While emoticons are not perfectly descriptive, I have found it helpful to add a smiley face. While I cannot always communicate the specific emotion I feel, the emoji can signal the range of feelings (happy, sad, playful).
I have made a vow to never have certain conversations over text, but this vow has been put under scrutiny. My general rule of thumb is that the more I feel is at stake in a relationship, the more likely I am to avoid text. The less I know a person in “real life”, the less I text them. This has honestly led me to some pretty crazy schemes to avoid texting someone. Sometimes I am not able to get to know people in “real life” since I don’t text them. Sometimes the circumstances are not ideal, and texting is the best tool I have.
Recently, I had a prolonged texting conversation with a new friend, something I hadn’t done for a long time. It felt weird. I was reminded how easily I can hide behind text messages and create a false image of myself through witty banter. I can use the turn-by-turn gameplay of texting to predict and direct the conversation to where I want. I—unintentionally—distance myself from the real conversation by focusing too much on the back-and-forth like a tennis ball. Although I try to use texting well, it sometimes (not always) allows me to be lazy in my relationships, to have a “conversation” in the background while continuing on with my life. I value eye-contact because it is hard work to achieve.