This Life...

I Don’t Get It…

Okay, I’m prefacing this post with a disclaimer: I love the Interwebs, I’m crazy about my blog, I work electronically from home, my cell phone is always on my person, and I read on a Kindle. So this mini-rant doesn’t come from a place of dial landlines, a typewriter, and snail mail (although I do love to receive letters on pretty stationery…).

I don’t get the need for constant communication and contact. It irritates the crap out of me to sit with someone at a restaurant or even at their home or mine and have them constantly eying their smart phone. They set it next to them on the table (mine’s in my pocket and generally set to vibrate if I’m with others at an event), and within seconds, the chiming or buzzing begins. Then they check out whatever message has come in and immediately respond. Their little thumbs fly over the keys as I sit waiting for them to return to the conversation at hand.

I admit it, texting pisses me off. Not the idea, although I truly don’t get it. I mean, seriously, the phone is in your hand. If what you have to say is so important it can’t wait an hour or two until you’re done with supper or a movie, then just go find a place and call the person. I’ve heard all the arguments for texting: 1) “I don’t have to get involved in a long conversation.” 2) “It lets me tell my friend something without interrupting what I’m doing. 3) “It’s the only way my kids will communicate with me.” There are probably others, but those are the three I’m addressing today.

I’m starting with Number 3 because that one makes me madder than the others. Kids, it’s your mom/dad–your parents. Answer your fucking phone! And if you can’t answer and they leave a message, return the call as soon as you can, not in a couple weeks or whenever you feel like it. These are the people who gave you life, who raised you, who put you through college, and put up with your snotty teenaged years. They deserve your attention. One quick note to parents, don’t abuse the fact that your kid has a phone permanently attached to his fingers. Keep your calls to a reasonable number and try to figure out when it’s most appropriate to contact him.

I guess I’ll go backwards, so Number 2. Trust me when I tell you, there is nothing so important you need to tell anyone that can’t wait for a phone call or until you see them. Not that the the guy in line in front of you at the grocery has a delicious butt; not that the jerk in the convertible just cut you off in traffic (and why the hell are you texting while you’re driving? Stop it immediately!); and not the fact that you just found that perfect shade of lipstick. Oh, and you are interrupting what you’re doing–you’re texting while I’m sitting across the table from you trying to have an intelligent conversation. And if the text is “Nan is boring me to tears,” well then, suck down your latte, say your goodbyes, and I’ll see you later…

Number 1. You don’t have to get involved in a long conversation. But you do get involved in long conversations–you’re just thumbing them instead of talking! What’s the difference? I’m still sitting across the table from you, wondering why the hell you bothered to meet me for coffee when clearly, you need to be somewhere else talking to someone else.

I get that sometimes a text is the absolute best way to communicate–when someone is ill in the hospital, if you’re going to be desperately late for an important meeting…but rarely is that the case. So, just a suggestion: Back away from the smart phone, set it to vibrate, put it in your pocket, and leave it alone. When we part ways, you can pull it out and answer all those crucial texts…you may end up sitting in a parking lot for a few minutes after we say our goodbyes, but at least I’ll feel like you were truly interested in being with me… Thanks a million…


  • Son

    Constantly answering your smartphone while with someone in person essentially sends the message “This experience that we are sharing is so worthless to me that literally ANYTHING that could be happening ANYWHERE right now is more important.” Whether it’s intentional or not, that’s what comes across, at least to me.

    The whole point behind texting to me (and consequently how I use it) is “I have a quick message to get you that is not time critical, and I don’t want to bother you with a call.” I don’t expect someone to respond immediately, and I am happy to wait hours if not days to respond to others. Those who use it as a phone call replacement are misusing the tool in my opinion – like hammering in a picture hanger nail with the butt end of a screwdriver.

    Finally, someone wise once told me that we train others in how we communicate. If you are johnny on the spot with emails, calls, and texts, then you set up the expectation that you always be. You will quickly find yourself in the position of spending all your time maintaining about 25 different conversations and your life will turn into servicing those contacts constantly. DON’T RESPOND TO THE EMAIL RIGHT AWAY! It’s ok if it sits a bit. DON’T RESPOND TO THE TEXT RIGHT AWAY! Think of it as a note someone left on your desk. ANSWER THE PHONE WHEN YOU DECIDE YOU ARE AVAILABLE, NOT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE DECIDES YOU SHOULD BE! You will be happier when you control the attention you pay into these things.

    My two cents.

    • admin

      Thanks everyone for your opinions–this is a sticky topic for some folks, but honestly, I’m glad Son agrees with me! Your advice is great!

      Fokker-mine won’t either and yes, indeed, another reason to love you, as if we need any more!

  • Joye

    You are absolutely right here!!! I too hate texting, which at points makes me feel so old fashion when sitting in a mixed crowd of different age groups and everyone is jumping to every beep to respond to every little “hey” that comes across their screen. But not old fashion enough to make myself feel like I have to be part of the crowd, 🙂

    When sitting one on one with another and they are so preoccupied with the texts coming in, it does make one feel as if the conversation you are having with them is less important than the messages they are sending back and forth. Face to face talking connects people so much better, unfortunately, this new age of technology definitely has its pros and cons.

    Great blog!!!

  • Diva

    Nan, I’m guilty.
    I text. And not only when it’s essential.
    I prefer it. That’s the only excuse.
    I like my info in tidbits without the meandering and repetitive loop that my family gets into if you say something foolish like ‘how are you?’

    I’m not defending it and as a rule I know whom I can text in front of and whom I cannot judging by my understanding of their sensibilities. I try to be respectful of that but you make an excellent point.

    Although I’m guilty, I truly enjoyed your “rant” and it will make me more mindful of my habit. 🙂