Text messaging. SMS messaging. It’s a great tool until it’s not. Expected are 24/7 availability and a response within minutes. Hell, if I responded within a week I considered it a successful interaction. With the expectations and “emergencies” created through texting, I’ve given it up… again.
I get it, there’s good and bad to everything, it’s about the user, not the tool, blah. It still is up to every user to look and see if the way they use the tool is healthy or unhealthy. I’ve given up text messaging once before, and I loved doing so. So why did I return?
Perhaps because it is easier than calling a person on the phone or, you know, visiting them in person. Maybe because it feels like people expect it.
Part of me does like what texting offers to the world, but it makes communication tough.
Each person has their own opinion of “texting etiquette.” When do I respond? How do I respond? What the heck are all of those acronyms? Seeing “TY” in place of thank you is one that’s really charming. “Thanks for doing something for me. Let me show my appreciation. TY.”
Like e-mail, I check my text inbox twice a day currently. If there’s anything that might “require” an interaction, I’ll call the person. Perhaps via video call, perhaps via phone, or perhaps I’ll visit. If it doesn’t “require” attention, then, you guessed it. It doesn’t receive any.
And it’s funny how many messages are in that category.
There are fewer interruptions, and no hurt feelings (once you tell people you are not texting) because you didn’t respond within a minute, hour, day, or week. You can live life without interruption and mixed signals or wires that got crossed in the sarcastic text taken the wrong way. After all, if words only account for 7% of a message (according to body language experts), then the other 93% (tone and actual body language) are lacking in a text message.
A phone call brings voice inflection back in the equation. That’ll be roughly 45% of a person’s message conveyed more clearly, if you trust the “experts.” A video call might make things 75% clear, assuming you won’t see the person’s entire body. Nothing, however, can earn the 100% clarity of interacting with another person in their physical presence.
The numbers are debatable, but if you’ve ever sent a message that a person took wrong, or received a message that you took wrong, you know how this works. Don’t explain yourself because of a bad text. Don’t text. Or do. But don’t do it because others expect it. Give it up for a while, see if you like it, and then come back to it if you really miss it.