Texting, Texting...Is This Really "Social" Media?

OK. I admit it. I've fallen into a vat of

techno-poopie.


Not exactly sure when I crossed over from talking to people on the phone with actual words coming out of my mouth.....to now, where the words, as few as possible, are coming out of the end of my fingers via text. But I have. I realized recently, that I actually have started to dread talking to ANYONE on the phone.

WHAT has happened?


Texting (and emailing too) has seduced us into thinking this gets things done easier and faster. And, the added bonus is that we don't actually have to "deal" with real, live people, who might slow us down with THEIR own opinions, comments or questions.


Is this what we are calling "SOCIAL" these days?


Ultimately, I believe it more often exacerbates MISSED communications and sends us into a state of "wondering what they meant by that?”. It opens the door for unnecessary hurt feelings too, when we assume the sender's attitude, yet have no clue.



One friend, who can tend to take the negative route in life, actually texted me, after I texted her information about a meeting she had missed,


"I would appreciate it if you wouldn't text me in that tone of voice."


Huh? I was just "FYI-ing" her. I think SHE was upset with HERSELF for forgetting the meeting and her own inner blow torch was reading my benign update. See how fast this slope can get slippery?


As for faster....who's counting? How many times have we had to go back and forth, forth and back, to get the message straight, or the directions clarified, or those "spell check" changes that magically appeared later...changed back to what we typed in the first place?


Then, there's spell check or as "THEY" like to call it, "AUTO CORRECT". "

CORRECT"? May I just say....my ass.

It reminds me of the time I sent a lengthy text to a newly hired landscape contractor. I was going through several scenarios "sharing my list" and asking him to "compare his list with my list". Every place the word "list" was typed (I SAW IT TYPED CORRECTLY) it was changed to "lust". I was in a rush and didn't proof read, so I didn't catch it. The landscaper texted back “concerning our lust” :…."Sorry, but I'm gay." We both had a great laugh but....really....how many times have you seen what you typed, only to find out it had changed in transit? That "quick and easy" thing, all too often, creates additional time spent course correcting.


So, come on now, does this actually speed up decisions and information, or does it heighten the anxiety loop in general? Honestly....the whole world of FB “likes” and Instagram "reach" and incessant “daily clinging” i do with my cell phone, (So, I won't miss a thing) has crept its way into my life and become a full-fledged habit. As positive as I like to be....truth be told...it just irritates me to pieces.


And it also makes me sorta sad. I miss thank you notes. "Thank you's" appear more often these days in two lines of text. The perfunctory “thanks a bunch” can make you feel more "blown off" than actually appreciated. I guess it beats nothing.


I remember the days of my very proper Southern Baptist Belle of a mother standing over me to make sure my "first draft" of my thank you note had met her approval. That was “step one”. Then it was on to the perfect penmanship on the note paper we had carefully selected to go with the matching envelope and special stamp, purchased at the post office. It was a total pain then, but I admit to feeling a bit wistful about the genteel ritual of the "thank you" from yesteryear. Now, it's: "Great dinner. Thanks." If that.


And, so it goes. More “being social” in our world today.

While I am on my little rant....here's another thing!


If someone sends a text.....the responsibility for "getting the text" is now on the intended recipient. Right? We are off the hook as the sender. When someone doesn't respond almost immediately, we can get a little testy about that too.


Admit it. It’s OK.


We DO expect a quick response to our texts. Here’s a case in point:


Over the weekend, my husband and I both sent a dinner invite to some new people in our community. My husband texted the husband. I emailed the wife. We were patting ourselves on the back for such a smarty pants move, covering our communication bases with new people. (Because, as we know….some people prefer texts, while others like email, some like being PM’d or VM’d...who can keep up?) After our multi-message went out, 24 hours went by. Then, 36. Then, a full 48 hours with no response.


WOW. What WAS the deal? Zip.


Ever go down the “not good enough” or “See…nobody likes me!” rabbit trail when that happens?


Well, the deal was....they were busy....LIVING. They were hiking and cooking out and laughing with their grandkids who were in for the holiday weekend. Checking their phones and computers took a back seat.


Whodda thunk?


When they realized our invites had been lying fallow, going on two days without responding to us....they texted their apologies. Of course they did. Because, these days, that's what "socially conscious well-mannered“ people do.


SOOOOOO…Aren’t we actually spending MORE TIME and MORE ENERGY with all of this than it would take for a less-than-20 second, upbeat, friendly message….SAYING....


“Hey there. It’s Peggy and Greg. We enjoyed meeting you so much the other night!

We would love to get to know you better! Would you be available for dinner this Sunday night?”

33 words. Real words. In a real voice. A sincere, friendly, voice-to-ear, human connection. Tell me you would not be shocked to receive an invitation like that these days. (and for those of you who are just doing a quick re-count of the number of words above….they also take only 8.6 seconds to say.) I'm shocked when a real voice actually answers ANY phone, aren’t you? Before I call someone, I have already crafted my VM to leave for them since I don’t actually expect to talk with them, as I’m on the run.


Where and what am I running to?

Or am I letting my "social" media life run me?

Has our way of "being in touch" lost the heart of humanity we are craving most right now?


So, here are three simple ways we really CAN be in touch with one another. No need to throw the texting baby out with the techno bath water, but being in REAL touch would feel so much better. It might feel a little awkward right now since we have lulled ourselves into what seems easiest. I just think much of what we deem easiest is actually resulting in some long days of feeling more lonely than ever.


These are things I am trying, too…I don’t want to complain about something I am not willing to make an effort to change.


 

1. Declare a day

maybe one morning each week, to check in with friends and family you have not heard from in a while. Call with your own voice. Prepare for the shock of someone actually answering! “HOW ARE YOU?” is a great way to start. “I just wanted to hear your voice. It’s been too long.” The truth and the tenderness will create a real connection, even if its for a few minutes.


2. Declare a TECH—NO time

with your spouse, family, the ones you live with. Be prepared for the complaining and have a subject ready to talk about. OR watch a TED TALK together. Then. Turn OFF the TV. And talk about the TED TALK. Get to know one another again. Isn’t it telling us something that this could feel painful?


3. Declare your appreciations.

Go to the gift store and find some note paper or a card that you love. That, in itself, could brighten your day. Find the snail mail address of someone who deserves your thanks for even the smallest thing. By the way, did you know that writing in cursive is actually good for your brain? Research has shown that it connects both hemispheres and creates better cognitive function in a way that even printing or becoming mesmerized by our devices will never do. What will be good for you will be even “gooder” for the recipient of your thoughtfulness.


 


Texting will never replace talking. It cannot compete with eye contact. It won’t replace a hug or create a conversation among friends. It wasn’t meant to become our way of relating and making a real connection with one another. It’s a tool.

We get to decide how much power to give it.



My devices or ME?

Which will it BE?

Look UP! The WORLD!

It's there to SEE!



 


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