This blog post was inspired after witnessing an adult son receive only a birthday text from his mother. Is it only me who finds sending someone a birthday text the most ridiculous thing ever? If you’re not going to visit with the person, at least pick up the phone. A one minute voicemail wishing them a great day and telling them what you love most about them is warranted on a birthday, no?
Let’s identify texting for what it really is: exchanging information with someone without actually speaking to them. Texting is as casual and non-human as it gets. You don’t see the person or hear the person. You aren’t even required to use the English language or formulate complete sentences.
It’s no mystery that texting isn’t an effective form of communication. There’s web pages devoted to the hilarious confusion in text messages. Have you ever misconstrued a text message, either because of auto-correct or you just couldn’t get what the person was saying until you called them to clarify? Texting and speaking aren’t the same. So why are we all using them as such?
A few years ago, texting was an extra way to communicate. Sending a little “thinking of you” message was sweet because you’d see or speak with that person later that day. Today, it’s grown into an all texting-all the time contagion.
Don't get me wrong, I text. I see the value in text messages. They’re quick and easy, for sure. They’re also totally emotionally void (no matter how many explanation points and smiley faces you tack on).
So, when is it appropriate to text message? When actually speaking to someone isn't overly valuable or beneficial to either person. Examples of this would be “leaving the house now”, “be there soon”, “don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning”, or “I’ll call you in 10 minutes”.
That leaves a whole lot of times when text messaging isn’t appropriate and nothing more than a lazy way to relay a message.
Inappropriate use of texting is:
- To wish someone happy birthday, congratulations, merry christmas, or speak on any other otherwise meaningful moments in life
- To apologize
- When you haven’t spoken with someone in person or over the phone in over 2 months
- When having any type of emotionally charged conversation
- To discuss anything at length
- Anything pertaining to business
- If it takes more than 3 sentences to get your message across
Can we just all agree to keep text messaging for meaningless topics only? Our children will never learn or understand ways to communicate if, as adults, we no longer have any standards of communication. We’ve already seen the research that simply being on a cell phone too much damages the parent-child bond. Do we really want to set them up with a lifetime of poor communication skills as well?
Today I’m setting the intention to always text appropriately…and never to my kids on their birthdays, unless it’s to tell them I’ll “be there in a few” to shower them with love and attention.