Service of Technology: What I love and Dislike about Texting

March 2nd, 2020

Categories: Communications, Technology, Texting

“Although we are separated in miles, we have the internet.” An 84 year old wrote this about her 6.5 decade friendships. She was responding to reporter Andrea Petersen’s Wall Street Journal article about the service of friendship and her letter, and those of other readers, made up a subsequent article.

My mother was an early adapter of gadgets and fan of the Internet. She felt independent with the help of her laptop in spite of physical constraints that eliminated her ability to go out alone and shop in person. In her late 80s she became a member of chat groups and she bought gifts online. Mom died 20 years ago so she didn’t have a Smartphone. But her example and that of the 84 year old in the first paragraph is clear: stay abreast of technology whether or not you need it for work, or you’ll miss out. You know it or you wouldn’t be reading this post but I suspect many still don’t.

My friends who don’t email or text don’t much hear from me these days. I find it a quick and easy way to stay in touch and share thoughts and news.

At first I avoided texting. I haven’t mastered the dictation option on my phone because it takes me so long to correct all the mistakes that happen when my phone’s ears mishear me. It’s often faster to type. The tiny keyboard combined with my big fingers still makes typing on the device a challenge.

Outweighing this hassle are many benefits starting with the freedom it gives me to be responsive to clients and friends who need to reach me quickly regardless of where I am.

So I’m an enthusiast.

When I watch a debate, the Oscars, a sports event or visit a museum exhibition I’m a text away from a friend with whom to share my reactions and opinions and seconds away from hearing theirs. They can respond when they want–I’m not interrupting them with a phone call–and yet it’s as though they are in the room with me or walking with me in a museum or trade show or store.

Do you text? Do you make it a point to stay abreast of technology? Do you know people who don’t write emails or text?  I wasn’t able to ascertain if currently there’s an app for the visually impaired to hear a tweet. That would be something to chirp about, don’t you think?

10 Responses to “Service of Technology: What I love and Dislike about Texting”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    As far as texting goes…my mom and dad passed away long before texting. However every time I text my daughters I’m sure my mom and dad would be horrified that I don’t get to hear their voices. Texting as quick and easy as it is seems very impersonal. I’m 100% sure my parents would never do it. I’m guessing it’s just too easy to type. Can’t remember the last time I actually spoke to the girls. So texting has its perks but it really is cold and deprives me of the warm fuzzy feeling I get from hearing Rachael and Lisa’s voices!

  2. ASK Said:

    While I know how to text, I text only if it’s an emergency, like being stuck in traffic or late to an appointment. Texting seems too impersonal. Also there are no nuances in a texted message. The English language is so rich…reducing it to a few commonly used nouns and verbs for simplicity goes against my grain.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    My mom loved to chat and for that reason I welcomed mobile phones: I would speak with her daily on my walk home from work, multi-tasking. Busy people don’t have time to chat and I suspect that many don’t keep up as they would like to with many friends and family members if that’s their only alternative.

    I type quickly on laptop and PC so I find it’s the best way to communicate. Depending on your job, if you are on the phone a lot or speak with colleagues all day, the last thing you want to do is talk some more. It’s great you’re in touch with your girls.

    I don’t know what Mom would think about texting. She liked to write so I suspect she’d email a lot.

  4. Cathy Said:

    What I like about texting is that it can be an efficient and relatively nondisruptive way to communicate timely information. What it doesn’t do is replace conversations, and it isn’t good for communicating more complex ideas and longer thoughts. It isn’t a replacement for email and telephone. Many younger people, especially, don’t understand that. I sometimes get really long texts that require long responses. The back and forth gets to be crazy. A telephone conversation would be much more effective and take the same amount of time. But what I see is that young people are now averse to both email and phone calls. They rely on texts.

    Another issue about texting is context. If you know the person you are communicating with is driving and you need to convey something important (such as that your plane arrived early and you’re at the curb), call! I can’t respond to a text while I’m driving, but I can take a call hands-free! My husband hasn’t figured this out yet!

    Texting is like any other communications tool: it has its place. Email still has a place, too, and so does phone contact! And while we’re at it, greeting cards (whether physical or digital) still have a place. A post to Facebook is a pale replacement for expressing sentiments.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    A friend had no idea how much his comments about an exhibition I was seeing–we texted back and forth–helped me. It was the first time I visited an institution I’d scoured countless times with my husband and I didn’t feel alone. [I didn’t want to go with anyone else and went at the last minute one Sunday.] I was spoiled. When I’d see something about a picture I could share my “discovery” with my husband. The friend I wrote to was free to respond–that was luck–and I knew he liked the artist as I do.

    Instant feedback while watching debates, Oscars etc. is quite amazing when the person you shared with is no longer there.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Cathy,

    I agree on all counts.

    I will often dash off an email and give a heads up to the recipient via text that I’ve sent one. Your counsel is so valuable that it would seem to me that a young ‘un would do well to open an email account, if they don’t already have one, just to accommodate/please you, also an important lesson. I remember a conversation with a stranger at an event who told me how she’d learned the traditions expected by Japanese business contacts and how one day her Japanese client, seeing her attempt at one of them, burst into laughter. He told her she could skip these with him, that he was doing business in the U.S. and therefore didn’t expect her to do all of this. Your mentees should give you the same recognition: They are in your court.

    I ADORE cards and my friends know it. A wonderful collection of them greet me when I come home–I still have cheery Valentines near my front door. I’ll be sad when I put them away but for now the red accents on a gray day or at night are too precious to remove even though we’re in March. Papyrus is closed and Kate’s Paperie long gone. Sad.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    I don’t text. Too busy enjoying what time I have left on this planet away from the phone. Technology is fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with living.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    That’s just it. At first I found texting an intrusion. Now I see how it connects me to others so I’ve become rather fond. It’s also a convenience. I was waiting in one of many lines outside Carnegie Hall last Saturday and it was a cinch for my friend to find me.

  9. BC Said:

    Hardly ever text, only in an emergency. Own an old flip phone which has limited capacity to text. AND, son pays for it on his family plan!

  10. Martha Takayama Said:

    I think texting can be useful in a pinch or when you cannot talk. I find it annoying to type quickly, worry about writing and spelling properly, think it is impersonal, don’t like that it leaves a “file” or a record, worry that I will once again send it to the wrong oerson and in general prefer the phone. However, I know that I cannot insist that everyone do as I wish. I also love the idea that it is one more way like all electronic communication that we can connect conquering distance and time.

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