The Problem with Texts

Judging from the number of texts I receive, as compared to the number of actual phone calls, I suspect texting has replaced calling as the most popular form of communication. Or miscommunication. And that’s why I’m blogging about it.

Texts are words without inflection, read without emphasis on any one word. You don’t know what the tone is. The recipient’s mood will dictate how the words are interpreted. If you read a sentence in a book, the author will add clues. “Please stay away,” she pleaded. Or “Please stay away,” she said with disdain.

So why do we text, rather than call? My theories. First: It gives you time to gather your thoughts. Two: You have unpleasant news to impart and you don’t want to hear the response. Three: You’re afraid if you call, the other person will keep you on the phone too long. Four: You don’t want the other person to know, from your tone, what you’re really saying. Five: You’re in a hurry and you think texting takes less time.

I could go on. But what do others say?

Ask a millennial and they’ll say phone calls are too intrusive, less private, too costly. The latter isn’t true on my phone plan, but it could be on others. They’ll also say they’re too much trouble if you want to get right to the point. Or if you don’t have “the gift of gab” it’s easier to text. It’s also easier to tell someone bad news without having to face them. (One of my theories).

According to a survey conducted by Forbes, the rise of texting does have critics. “Messages are so condensed that they often fail to convey the sender’s intended meaning and tone, causing misunderstandings—and that’s not even factoring in the confusion of “autocorrect fails.”

Ah yes, those autocorrect fails.

To text or not to text seems to be generational. If I want an immediate response from one of my children, I text. If I have important information they need to hear by voice, I leave a message.

And then I text them to tell them to listen to it.

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