After sitting next to someone for a lunch one too many times and being virtually ignored, I have given considerable thought to the reasons I hate texting, and here is what I’ve come up with:
SMS texting, like a lot of technology, has replaced the smoking habit for a lot of people. I like to call it chain-texting. Think about it. When done habitually, chain-texting is self-imposed ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The text junkie is unable to hold a cohesive conversation with those in her physical company. She is often unable to maintain eye contact or hold her hands still.
Texting tethers its user to a device like a slave. Rather than focusing on the quality of her relationships in person, the chain-texter feverishly inputs her running texts to keep her contacts happy and at bay. When a person begins to confuse the words “friend” and “contact,” she’s probably already too far gone.
As we have seen in recent video, chain-texting is often unsafe, as one feels it is necessary to constantly view the keypad while operating. I have witnessed mothers obliviously texting while crossing busy parking lots, their toddlers meandering steps behind as incredulous motorists wait to see how far behind the child can fall before mother finishes sending and jerks her child back to her side.
Chain-texting takes her totally out of the moment, causing her to miss fully experiencing her immediate physical environment and her attentive company, and incites frustration in others.
This habit is often anxiety-provoking when the chain-texter is unable to respond or keep in constant touch with contacts. In fact, text withdrawal can strike at any moment, resulting in a panic attack upon finding one’s phone has died or lost signal.
Chain-texters disrespect the company they keep by dividing attention, much like someone who physically leaves company in a restaurant to venture outside for a smoke several times during a meal.
It also insensitively leaves everyone feeling like a person left out of a private conversation that is occurring off to the side.
“Whom are you texting?” you ask, feeling inexplicably intrusive for being offended at this 40th interruption, when the chain-texter is the one who suggested this lunch.
“Just a friend.”
“What did she say?”
“Oh, nothing”…which triggers the thought, “Why am I here with you?”
And it usually makes what would be a two-minute voice conversation last indefinitely.
Most important is that people chain-text rather than designating a set amount of time for the day’s texting, so it becomes a task that is never completed. If a task is never satisfied within a certain time frame, most of us won’t feel successful at the end of each day of multitasking. It’s the verbal equivalent of leaving off a conversation with, “And then…” and exiting the door to return later and pick up the conversation.
This incongruency creates a bothersome Zeigarnik Effect for each unfinished task that can eat away at the subconscious, continually setting off subliminal reminders in one’s head to complete an objective that is impossible to ever fully meet.
For the worst-affected, chain-texting can be as psychologically unhealthy and socially stigmatizing as smoking cigarettes. So…can someone make a patch, some gum, or the equivalent of the electronic vapor cigarette, something that simulates the physical sensation of clicky push buttons and the endorphin rush of the T9 frenzy?
Better yet, take unlimited texts off of your cell phone plan. You’ll thank me later. In the new society I’m working toward, “qwerty” is a dirty word.
I can hear it now. “Hey, are those birds and flowers? I forgot what those looked like! Hey, my hands—they’re free!”
One day, they’ll have something like Bluetooth for hands-free texting, say, with sound that can imitate a person’s mood and tone of—oh, I don’t know—voice. Oh yeah, way ahead of you there. It’s called a speakerphone.
You’ve got to admit I have a point. In the meantime, until chain-texters get the message to use etiquette, I suggest they excuse themselves and go outside to text just as one would for a cigarette break.Powered by Sidelines