Texting: A Tool or a Torch

While I really like communicating with a short text, of late, I am finding that it is ruining some of the relationships I have nourished and cherished for years.

I can remember when I began using texts as a form of communication, my son was in high school. I sent him a text announcing dinner from the kitchen while he played video games in the basement. I thought it was funny, he did not. I loved the new shorter language and laughed while trying to decipher what people were texting. It was fun.

But now, texting has become a problem. In my world, people are using text rather than more traditional means of communication and messages have been skewed, missed, misinterpreted, and ignored. I am not one who carries my phone on my hip checking in by the minute to see what’s up and because of that, I miss some texts. I love technology and the ability to connect in a variety of ways. But I also see it as a way to detach and test true friendships and here is why.

A month ago, I had a health scare which involved a biopsy. I called a few friends on their cell phones feeling a need to talk about my health concern. I needed some old-fashioned support. I didn’t expect anyone to really answer their phone and what I had to tell them wasn’t the kind of message I felt like leaving. “Hi, it’s Judy. I’m scared.” So I left a messages.  “Please call me back.” No returned call. I tried another friend, “Just wondering if you and (husband) would like to come over. We can throw some chicken on the grill. Call me back.” No returned call. And another, “I am going to be right near your house on Saturday morning, I would love to stop by.” She answered but when I got there, no one was home, no call, no text. I sent her a text from her driveway to find out her grandson’s soccer game had gone longer than expected and she wouldn’t be home till later. All that happened without one conversation.  I could have gotten more attention from the lady next to me choosing bananas at the grocery store.

I know it sounds like I don’t have good friends, but I do. The three women I called that weekend are strong, resilient women and I needed some of that. Problem is, technology has made us unavailable unless we want to be available. In the old days, when the phone rang and we picked it up. No caller ID to screen the call, no getting back to people later. We just answered and stopped what we were doing and spent time listening, sharing and connecting. Everything wasn’t on our terms and our time like it is now.

I am guilty of all of the above but I am going to change. I have worked way too long to develop strong friendships to let them die with a text. When someone calls, I am going to answer their call and if I am in the middle of something, I will call them right back. I will not answer a phone call with a text. If someone calls, it’s because they have a desire to talk, not text. If someone doesn’t call me back, I am not going to revert to text because the text will illicit a swifter response. I will call again. And if I ever really need someone, I won’t leave messages about dinner and being in their neighborhood. I will just leave a message that says, “I’m scared.”

P.S. I’m OK.