Saturday, January 29, 2011

My radical new texting policy


My friend Kevin has a policy that I have recently adopted. I will not carry on a text conversation. Text messages are great for short alerts.

I’m running late. 

I’m at baggage claim. 

I’m pregnant. 

But they’re not designed to replace conversations. After a couple of quick back and forths, if you want to continue to converse with me I will CALL you. You’re obviously there. You just texted me two seconds ago.

Yes, the ability to send text messages that are received instantly is pretty amazing. Clearly, the purpose of human thumbs is to communicate. But even more amazing is that by simply pushing a few buttons you can actually TALK to the person. Imagine, carrying on a dialogue in real time. And hearing the other person’s voice. Not having to decipher what ob meant when the person hit the wrong key. Being able to express a thought longer that a tweet.

Since I adopted this policy, there have been a few times when someone has tried to engage me in a text conversation. So I would call them. And they were always startled. Completely in shock.    It’s like, “Ohmygod, did somebody die?” Has it been that long since people talked to each other that it is now awkward?

So if you want to tell me you’re on your way, the team bus leaves in ten minutes, or my hair is on fire, then by all means text me. But anything else, let’s talk by smartphone.

If this policy works I then might suggest something really insane – we actually get together and talk face to face. I know.  WTF? 2M2H.

26 comments:

Randy Fuller said...

I think you meant to write "my hair is ob fire."
I have found that texting a conversation is used when someone needs information from you, but they don't wish to disconnect themselves from what they are doing at the time, which is obviously far more important.

Cameron Yarde said...

I have to disagree on this one. Sometimes you just don't want to talk to people for long periods of time, even your own friends. A text conversation can be far more convenient. Especially if you're in a public place and don't want people to hear your private details.

When you do the 9-5 grind sometimes I'm just too tired to have a long chat. A quick text works much better on those occasions.

Beverly Neufeld said...

Sometimes I love texts just because someone has a funny thought (or usually that would be me) and we just zing it to you. It always brightens my day.

lucidkim said...

Sometimes I agree with this and sometimes I don't -

I prefer texts with people I don't really want to talk to - one of my sisters cannot EVER shut up and ending conversations on the phone is difficult. Texting is much easier, harder for her to go off on unrelated tangents when she has to type up everything.

And like others have already mentioned, sometimes you're in a place where talking is awkward or impossible - and texting is preferred.

Dave Creek said...

I really don't want to have to type a conversation. And at my job l multi-task so much that when I'm away from it I just want to be linear -- do one thing, finish it, do the next.

Damian said...

I live by the 3 response rule. Sometimes a quick back in forth via text is the best way to communicate. But after 3 responses, it is time to actually call somebody...

crackblind said...

Except you can't use a phone conversation to ignore a very boring unnecessary meeting where you are in the back of a crowded room with your phone under the table.

Otherwise I agree. Drives my wife crazy when I call her after a few back and forths.

crackblind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed Dempsey said...

I agree with you that its great for quick messages or updates, but phone (preferred) or email are much better for longer or more involved thoughts.

I'll never forget a conversation with a client. He was telling me about calling his son. Before he even gets a chance to start listening to the voice mail message, he gets a text. "You called, what do you need?" He responded with, "For you to pick up the damned phone".

lucifervandross said...

I have a very small minute allowance, but unlimited text, and spent 9 years in a call center. I hate talking on the phone.

AlaskaRay said...

Ken Levine wrote: "I’m pregnant."

Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Ray

wolferiver said...

I have a day long text conversation with my brother while at work. There's no way we could call and talk, as we both have jobs. Texting allows us to chat intermittently, each replying at our convenience, such as when in a boring meeting or seminar. I even text colleagues while in those same boring meetings: it is exactly like passing notes in class.

Otherwise, I have few friends that I text with, and we usually just call each other.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

RIGHT ON Ken!

This might be generational, seems as though most of these numbnuts under the age of 30 would rather text than talk. I have two of these guys working for me and the other day one texted me when I was less than twenty feet from him. I told him if he ever does that again that I was going to bury him in the woods with his cell phone sticking out of the crack of his ass like a soda cracker. He then asked me what a soda cracker was...

This world has become less connected with all this new technology.

Phillip B said...

The saddest thing for me is to see a group of young people on the street, all of them texting or on the phone to others but not interacting with each other.

Dealing with the emotional complexities of human interaction - whether it is fearing someone might burst into tears or try to hit you - is an important part of life. You have to be present to win.

The truth of every study I've read is that only a tiny portion of texts and tweets are actually read, much less understood. Pretending that anyone is hanging on those pithy 144 characters is a pitiful demonstration of being self absorbed.

Not as bad as excessively posting comments on blogs, I'll grant you, but lack of human contact removes a lot of interesting possibilities - and does not seem to add much...

Carlos M Hernandez said...

Well, the last two responses are above highlight the real issue I see in texting: Texting when you have an opportunity to actually speak face-to-face.

If someone is texting you while standing a mere feet away, they deserve a smack down.

However, I've always, always hated the phone. It was a problem because I wouldn't communicate with friends. Their endless chats, long conversations about things I didn't care to hear about or had the time to listen to were boring to me.

I'm not talking about real life issues, either. Obviously, you have a problem and I'm there for you as a friend. But, I don't need to hear about gossip or sit there in silence because you ran out of things to say but refuse to hang up.

A text allows me to chat with multiple friends about various conversations without interfering with the other. It allows me to listen to the game or television show I'm watching without someone talking into my ear. And most importantly, it allows me to end the conversation on my terms. Always on my terms.

Texting is the best thing that ever happened for me.

Dimension Skipper said...

I'm very surprised nobody's posted anything about, or at least similar to, this yet...

Ban On Walking Texters May Follow Fall Into Fountain
(News vid w/snippet of relevant security cam footage of incident included on page)

Texting is and can be quite useful, but anything when done to extreme obsession and/or frequency will be annoying, if not downright dangerous in some fashion.

I utilize it minimally and rarely myself, but then I'm not a "phone-y" person to begin with. I'm with Ken on this one, but also understand and recognize the many benefits and proper uses others are bringing up.

Anonymous said...

Texting is very useful in the middle of calculus.

Nancy said...

Probably the only person this applies to is my 20 yo son. If he texts me and we have one or two back and forths I usually call him to get something settled and move on!

writerjoel said...

I hate texts in all contexts, personally. If you need to send a short message rather than submit yourself to the possibility of a back-and-forth conversation, send an email. If you want to tell someone something, but don't want your conversation heard, AND don't want to leave the public sphere that is expecting you to engage with it, then, well, you're THAT guy, aren't you?

You know what I do nowadays when I'm, say, at dinner with friends? Turn my phone off. Can't. Stand. Texts.

dgm said...

Yes!

Anonymous said...

there's something rather inhuman about texting. my 20 something g/f tries to use it to avoid talking about things that should be discussed... or turns replying in a timely fashion into power struggles. i told her if this continues I'm going to disable texting (i only text with her and maybe two others)... her response "then we can't be together". rather sick....

William C Bonner said...

If we meet up, I can try to get you to buy the beer. As long as we keep it to the virtual conversation, I can raise my virtual beer to you, and you don't have to know how many I've had, or worry that I'll leave you with the bill.

Miles said...

As someone mentioned already, many of us have plans with a finite number of voice minutes but virtually unlimited text messaging.

Importantly as well, text messaging allows me to keep in contact with people at a level that's below the real-time importance of a voice call, but much more immediate and personal than e-mail. I find myself in frequent touch with people I would otherwise contact very rarely or at all. This is good.

I actually take a position opposite to that of the original poster: short, urgent messages should be handled by voice if at all possible, while more casual discussion is fine via text message.

Final point: Grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization DO count in text messages!

MBunge said...

"many of us have plans with a finite number of voice minutes but virtually unlimited text messaging."


We'll see how long that lasts.


"I find myself in frequent touch with people I would otherwise contact very rarely or at all. This is good."


Not necessarily. People seem to engage in a lot of online pseudo-relationships.

Mike

camillofan said...

So, is it generational? I'm 50, probably text a lot for my age, and agree 100% with Ken.

BTW, as a college teacher, I can't tell you how frustrating I find the under-the-desk texters who think they're being discreet.

xjill said...

Ken,

This post makes me think of something I was wondering earlier this week. The LAT posted some Community behind-the-scenes pics and most of them had the cast on their phones/computers, etc.

What did casts do before technology like this and do you think it helps or hurts the set environment??

Here's what I'm talking about:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/hollywoodbacklot/la-ca-0130-hollywood-backlot-community_pictures,0,900971.photogallery

P.S. This is more like a Friday question I guess.