It’s not hard to see the appeal of texting. In an effort not to feel lonely, we text, email or call on our smartphones (or have Siri do it for us). We have access to amazing amounts of information, and this is a good thing.
But knowledge is not happiness, and texting is not love; indeed, for some of us, it’s a poor substitute for love.
How else does texting mess us up? When we send angry or hurtful texts, we’re taking the coward’s way out: we don’t have to be there with the person to deliver our bad news. We can send it and not deal with the consequences…until they text us back.
With less face-to-face contact and more texting/emailing, I wonder if we’re losing the ability to cultivate high-quality loving relationships, with others and with ourselves.
In the BSE (Before Smartphone Era), we had to learn how to talk with people, face-to-face. We also had to learn skills like: how to be alone; how to talk to ourselves when things went wrong, how to comfort ourselves when we were scared. These were valuable skills, albeit difficult to acquire.
Now, it’s so easy to whip out our phone and text/call/email someone if we’re bored or alone. Some of us get anxious if we don’t have our phones with us at all times. A client told me, “Take my phone away and I’d die.” On some level, a lot of us feel that way. We are so used to having information and people at our fingertips.
But what about love? Smartphones are good at helping us hook up, but not very helpful with learning and mastering difficult emotions. Love, you may be shocked to know, has to happen in person. You need to see your lover, touch him, hear her voice, notice how his eyes look away or how her lips begin to tremble during a heavy conversation.
Love is more than words: it is seeing your lover’s face, hearing her voice, touching him. The less face-to-face a communication is, the more it loses its power. If you want loving relationships: face-to-face communication is the best. Over the phone is #2. An email is a distant #3, and texting is #4.
Texting has value: for short, quick communications, it’s fine. But, when you have something important to say, say it in person. I know it’s harder to talk about difficult things in person, but this is about being a grown-up, not an 8th grader who breaks up with someone in a text message.
People continually tell me that they feel lonely, unloved and disconnected from friends and possible lovers. Anxiety and panic attacks are on-the-rise nationally, if not internationally.
There are plenty of studies in psychological journals decrying texting as the end of intimacy. Let’s not get crazy about this. Every time a new technology appears, some PhD. Candidate in psychology uses it as an excuse to say we’re all becoming more alienated from each other.
Technology isn’t the enemy. Technology is neutral; it’s a tool. Our SmartPhones can be wonderful, but if we’re using them to avoid intimacy and become more isolated, let’s admit that. If we’re using them to let those that we love know that we’re thinking of them throughout the day, let’s be clear on that.
I encourage you to see what mode of communication works best for you in specific situations. If you want love: the more personally you can communicate, the better. If you’re just up for a quick, “Hey, thinking of U.” then a text is fine.
We are living in an age of rapidly changing technology: let’s use texting, emails, Skypeing, Smartphones and whatever else is out there for our benefit. We can use technology to bring more love into our lives or to become more isolated, the choice is ours. Let’s make it consciously.