One aspect of technology that has greatly changed social interactions is texting. How often do you actually pick up the phone to call someone?
I admit, I am an avid texter. Often, I would much rather text someone than call them (but I’m working on it!). The most appealing thing about texting to me is that it allows you to multitask. You can be working out on the elliptical and texting five people at the same time and still listen to your music.
Although I do like texting, I have some major concerns with it. My two biggest issues with texting are that it is 1) distracting and 2) impersonal—you can easily hide behind your phone. Two articles from a site that routinely pops up on my newsfeed, Elite Daily, discuss how texting has changed the way we interact with each other and the consequences: Why the texting generation is actually the lonely generation and To Text Or Not To Text: The Times You Have To Pick Up The Phone.
Texting can distract you when you are driving, hanging out your friends, doing homework– you name it. I had a friend freshman year who would be on her phone texting half of the time we hung out. Like, really? You asked ME to go to your room and hang out. This is one thing that I’ve never understood… As for doing homework and texting…half the time I have to throw my phone across my room or hide it in order to focus. I think it has given my ADD.
Why is the texting generation the lonely generation? Because we rarely interact face to face anymore. Texting allows you to avoid having difficult conversations and even stimulating, intellectual conversations– “People enjoy communicating via telephone and text because it is the easy way out. That is the most logical and obvious way to put it. You can easily put a phone down, shut a computer or close a tab when things get too serious or don’t go the way you want them to. But my God, how would you deal with that in person?” (Metzger). We often text people when we are bored rather than go outside, read a book or actually go hang out with friends. Is this because we are lazy or because this is how we have been socialized? We have established this new norm of social interaction and essentially “Texting has ruined the art of face-to-face conversation” (Metzger).
Is the cartoon from the New Yorker an accurate depiction of the future? “I used to call people, then I got into emailing, then texting, and now I just ignore everyone.” I hope not. I think that people will continue to text but they will embrace their face-to-face interactions more. I don’t think that texting can sustain a healthy relationship– a friendship or a romantic one–people need to pick up the phone more. But we also need to be in the moment. When we have our phones on us, its easy to text or look up things or play games. We need to take in our surroundings and live in the real world, not the cyber world.
Katy Perry says it right in her song, This is a Part of Me: “I just wanna throw my phone away/Find out who is really there for me.”