There’s a saying among opponents of text messaging that if the telephone was invented after a text messaging device, everyone would call each other and never text again. There’s something to be said about that. I know, texting is convenient, and in today’s busy world we can’t be bothered to call each other for every little thing, but it’s important to question that mindset, especially when it comes to having important conversations.
We’ve all seen the detriments of text messaging in one way or another, and the ensuing arguments are not pretty. While some miscommunication can lead to a short pang of anxiety, a small misunderstanding through texting could lead to something much worse.
Texting is meant for quick communication
Texting should really only be used when you need to transmit important information quickly. “Got milk.” “Can you pick up Bobby?” “Be home soon.” Nothing can really be misconstrued from these quick messages (although don’t hold me to that). When texting is used as a primary means of communication, however, things start to get out of hand.
Anyone who texts knows that it’s not the only thing you do when you do it. Usually, you’re reading a book, watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, or something other than watching the screen waiting for the next message to come in. So when you’re in an argument with a friend or significant other, chances are you’re not truly focused on the problem, and your mind is elsewhere. Not hitting a disagreement head on leads to…
Long, drawn out arguments
Texting draws arguments out much longer than they need to be. You have to sit and wait for the other party to respond, which could take anywhere from seconds to hours, depending on the situation. While most serious arguments are dealt with immediately, sometimes one person is left in limbo, not knowing if the other even got the text, or cared enough to read it. Any delay leaves one party anxiously paranoid, which only serves to further the argument.
Texting avoids necessary confrontation
Known to psychologists as a form of avoidance, texting about major conflicts is simply a way to talk about the situation as if it’s not actually happening to you. On that same note, if you’re discussing a problem about yourself as if it doesn’t apply to you, then the solution you reach doesn’t apply to you either; nothing gets accomplished via “solution by text.” It may be difficult, but couples who are comfortable talking out their problems in person are much more connected than those who only communicate “big things” through a cell phone screen.
Texts can be ignored
You wouldn’t simply stare at your friend and not say something after he confronted you, would you? But we do it all the time with texts. The ultimate defense mechanism is ignoring the problem. It might be easiest at the time to simply put the phone down and come back to it “when you’re ready,” but, since there really is no convenient time to have an argument, you’ll keep putting it off until more and more damage is done. Don’t let things pile up to a breaking point; call and get through your problems.
Texting lacks emotional attachment
Like we just said, texting detaches you from the situation you’re discussing. But more than that, texts can be misconstrued, and be the beginning of certain arguments. You’ve heard the sentiment: “Oh, that sounded harsh, better say ‘lol’ and type a smiley face!” Chances are, if you sent a message that was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, it most likely came out as derogatory. If you made the same statement in person, your friend would have heard the sarcasm in your voice, and known not to take you too seriously.
Texts aren’t private
Text messages definitely are not private. If you and your significant other are at a party, and face a disagreement, you can leave and deal with it without others looking on. When you argue through text, you run the risk of your SO tossing his (or her) phone to a friend, commenting “Look how ridiculous this conversation is.” Of course, all that will do is reinforce your SO’s perspective, as the friend will most likely agree with the comment. Arguments should not be about “who’s right,” but rather about how both parties can reach a common ground. Making an argument public is completely counter-intuitive to this.
Texting leads to regretful statements
We’ve discussed how emotionally detached text messaging is, but let’s take it a step further. Since both parties are using texts as an emotional wall, they sometimes feel like they can say hurtful, terrible things that they never would say if they were face-to-face. In person, they’d see the love in each others’ faces, and the emotions in their voices. Being physically close to a loved one while arguing makes you realize that, in the long-run, the current argument is trivial compared to the love you share. Seriously. The next time you’re upset with someone you love, try to argue in person. Chances are, it won’t last long, and will be much more productive for your relationship.
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