I feel a little defensive here, so please bear with me. It’s not that I’m antisocial – no, no, I love interacting with people. And it’s not that I’m a Luddite. I love the internet, for example: it’s made this blog possible, which is in the six figures on number of views. Please know, too, that I was a fairly early adopter of cell phones back in 1998. I embrace technology when it serves my purposes. My purposes just don’t square with stopping what I’m doing, squinting at my phone screen to read a stream of little messages, or using my thumbs to write back.
I’m a critical consumer, including of textpectations. I pick and choose what goods and services to use, rather than automatically buying or doing what’s available. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars less on my cell phone bill over the years because I opt out of texting. Does a product or service fill a true need? Make me happier? Improve my quality of life? I’m intentional, and I’m not easily seduced by gadgets in general. My life is already full of information, overfull, actually. The additional data-flow that texting would bring in would dizzy me, complicate my life, and distract me from what I love the most.
I’ll admit I’m missing out on a few benefits that texting could bring me. Texting clearly excels at imparting quick snips of truly-needed information, such as last-minute changes to plans. If a group of folks need the same information quickly, I can see texting them all at once is highly efficient. However, I recently left my husband a quick voicemail to update him on something. It was several sentences, and done in fifteen seconds. “It would have taken me five minutes to have texted all that,” my carpool partner groaned. I think people sometimes cave in to textpectations when other mediums — maybe including a peaceful silence — would work better.
I fear that people would have crushing textpectations of me if I opened my door to texting. Folks might think I truly need to know that they are now walking into Trader Joe’s, or choosing the bran muffins over the blueberry muffins, or ogling the person ahead of them in the checkout line. I’d get copied on group text-messages and be expected to read them, when I’m already a little notorious for not opening all my emails. So, it seems extreme, but I opt out of any textpectations at all. And yes, I know that I couldn’t get away with this if I had teenagers.
I try to be present to the people I’m physically with in a given moment, not to mention other species in the mix like bees and flowers and dogs. Also, I love to be physically active. Staring at my cell-screen when I already rue how much time I spend on the computer would make me more sedentary, and move me backwards on physical activity.
I know a great many people see texting differently, though. I’m open to hearing in comments about how you manage textpectations, or how texting improves your quality of life, or other reasons I should reconsider this.
photo courtesy of Dan Zen