It seems we have grown to be more like kids in high school when it comes to communicating with each other. I had thought only 14 year olds relied on frequent texting to stay in touch and build relationships. We adults call one another and speak on the phone, right? We may start talking with a few texts, then tell someone we will call as if they need to know this. It’s almost like we want to make an appointment to call each other.
Texting is convenient and time efficient. If we need a quick yes or no answer to a question, it is perfect. When we use it as a means to have a conversation it is limited in terms of missing intonation, facial expressions, and body language. At the same time, it adds the element of anticipation. Think watching those little typing action bubbles as someone is responding to your text. You know you do it. It is hard to ignore the audible ping of a message coming in on our phones even if doing so would mean we could read it at a more convenient time. We get a hit of dopamine when we get notifications on our phones and we are all addicted to it.
We feel an interesting kind of closeness with someone when we are rapid fire exchanging messages. Both of us are staring at our little glowing boxes at the same time, eagerly looking for the responses.
I think we may say things via text that we would never say to someone’s face. It seems so harmless when it’s just a bunch of letters forming words to be read. The words have diminished meaning because they come with no other form of expression. As receivers, we are always free to not respond, or wait for what we feel is an appropriate period of time to respond. This can turn into a fun game that can extend for days, weeks, or months. I’m not sure 14 year olds do this, but I know many adults, myself included, who do.
Many state in their online dating profiles that they aren’t interested in a “texting buddy” as it is easy to fall into starting an appropriate conversation that carries on endlessly. I once did this with someone for four months. It started out as a reasonable conversation that morphed into a form of titillation and amusement. I had fun with this, and eventually spent a weekend with the man. I made the mistake of believing this long conversation via texting was a legitimate relationship. We did build a certain level of intimacy because it was an unreal conversation where we were free to share a lot of personal thoughts, feelings, jokes, and photos. When we finally met, the connection wasn’t as intense. Most of this texting took place as I was recovering from major surgery with the actual meetings happening after I was fully recovered so there was a lot of anticipation wrapped up in the eventual meeting.
When I believe we as adults have evolved to communicate with each other as mature adults rather than like most teenagers, I still see myself falling into the trap of craving that hit of dopamine that comes with a text from someone whom I’d like to believe is thinking about me.
Here is some relevant history about texting:
A Brief History of Text Messaging
How did text messaging evolve from a high-tech feature to a cellphone staple? Check out its history here.
Thank you for reading :)