September 11, 2014 by Keisha || The Girl Next Door is Black
Lately, text messaging has been like a pin in my shin. At times, I find it invasive and maddening. People can get at you all times of day and night! When did it become expected that we are all available and attached to our phones all day long? There used to be a time when people made plans to call each other. They didn’t call during mealtime. They didn’t call you when you’re sleeping to ask “are you awake?” They didn’t ask you to snail mail them naked photos of yourself after one date. I’ve been texting since the ’90s and yet I’m finding this form of communication more and more perplexing.
Sometimes I get texts like this (especially from guys):
I really don’t understand “hey” texts. This isn’t a phone call that requires call and response. It’s a text. You have 160 characters. Use them! How am I supposed to respond to “hey”?
When someone texts “hey”, I wonder: Is this person just interested in exchanging brief greetings? Is there a purpose to this text? If I reply, will I get drawn into a long textual conversation? A text novella? And if you have time to write a long block of text, might it be easier to pick up the phone, make a call and save us both some time?
“Hey. What’s up?”
“What u doin”
Now what? Is this rhetorical? Like when people ask, “How are you?” and then don’t even listen for your answer? Is he actually curious what I’m doing? What if he wants to do something and I just want to order pizza, lay around in my PJs and rainbow socks and watch stupid Lifetime movies? (Don’t judge me! Sometimes the allure of terrible, but snarkable TV movie fare such as, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story or the Tori Spelling classic, Mother May I sleep with Danger is too great. Anyway, I also watch “60 Minutes”, so it balances out.) “What u doin?” Is this a trick question?
“I’m [doing something really cool and impressive, yet believable]!”
“What are you up to?”
Argh! What the heck am I supposed to say to that? What is the point of all of this?! What do you want from meeee?
People abuse the text message medium. You see people pulling out their phones texting at restaurants in the company of others; people with no home training lighting up their screen in the middle of a dark movie theatre; the much maligned and dangerous texting while driving; the “almost never a good idea” act of drunk texting; and while I haven’t been to church in years, I bet you people are texting while the pastor is preaching and I know they’re not texting Jesus. What would Jesus do? Not text when he’s supposed to be listening to the word of his Father!
Don’t even get me started on the foolishness of “text speak.”
What really gets me though, is the timing question. What is an acceptable window of time within which to return a text? To me? It’s within a few hours unless circumstance necessitates otherwise.
In general, these are the instances where I am more likely to respond to a text immediately:
- Text indicates it’s important (“Mon Dieu!”, “Great Scott!”, “The sky is falling!” )
- Texter is sick and /or dying (Though I would hope in this case they’d drop the texting predilection in favor of calling 911 and then me)
- Texter is super sad
- Texter is super happy
- Texter has free stuff to give away
- Texter knows where there is free stuff, especially if it’s food
- I’m meeting up with someone
- My phone is already in my hands or in arm’s reach, it does not count arm’s reach if I have to do a yoga pose to grab the phone
- Texter has run into Channing Tatum (or Oprah)
- Texter is Oprah (or Channing Tatum; other celebrity substitutes may be considered)
Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I prefer not feeling like I’m at my phone’s beck-and-call. If I don’t reply to a text right away, it’s more than likely not personal. I am of the belief that my phone doesn’t run me; I run it! It’s healthy to spend time apart from your phone and all its lights and bings and chimes. Boundaries with your phone are necessary, ’cause it’ll try to get all up in your life, disruptive and stuff. Technology is meant to ease our lives; enhance it. Not rule us and dictate our actions. When your dumbass is running into utility polls because of texting while walking, you might have a problem! I encourage others to consider instituting texting boundaries of their own. There is more to life than jumping with every ping of our phone.