Here’s How Texting Is Turning Us All Into Flaky Monsters

person texting on the curb
David Preston

I have successfully made it through 1.25 days without text messaging. Not because I have stellar self control, but because I’ve actually blocked all incoming messages. I can’t send any, outgoing ones, either. My thumbs are in jail, with all my messaging apps and on-screen notifications

It’s called #textless, and damn, I can already tell it’s gonna be a ballbuster.

I’m not sure if I should be celebrating my 1 entire day of textlessness, or sulking – ashamed that I actually feel accomplished for something as menial as resting my thumbs. It’s just texting! Well, it should be just texting. I’m here to prove it’s become so much more. Too much more.

If you are new to this #textless thing, here’s a brain brief on my thinking process: I despise texting (because I admittedly suck at responding) and am pissed it’s become the default way we communicate. It’s really valuable for some situations, like when we need to say “I’m 30 minutes away!” but I don’t know at what point it became the most prevalent way we talk about everything.

It’s non-consensual – it inserts itself anytime it wants. It erodes our boundaries – we are totally reachable, in-demand and also, demanding. And, we are distracted by it. We’re addicted to it. Our communication is constant rather than quality.

And we’ve become flaky-as-fuck.

The first #TEXTLESSON I want to share with you shimmied across my field of understanding yesterday, at the sunset of Day One: Text messaging allows us to flake. I even argue now that it makes us flake.

We used to hold true to our word and commitments because our planning methods did not allow for constant contact. There was a focal point to commitment. There was a human handshake to commitment – a meeting of minds through words. Now, because of texting, there is no such thing as a definitive “yes.” And we underplan, undercommit and change our minds with just the push of a not-even-real button.

Maybe it’s not us…maybe it’s texting that’s made us this way. 

Perhaps we can change our minds, change our plans, and get away with bending the truth because of the ease of texting.

I realized this chicken-or-egg omelette of a mindfuck yesterday when I was showering before heading to dinner at a friends’ house.

I hadn’t washed my hair in a while – because…single – so naturally, I didn’t remember how extensive of a process that actually is. Wet shampoo takes longer than dry shampoo, it turns out. I was hobbling along at snail’s pace. When I suspected I was running behind schedule, I picked up my phone to shoot a text – “Running 15 behind!” (It could have easily turned into 30, to be honest.) But guess what? I couldn’t do that.

*GASP*

Would I have to call my best friends and tell them I am a shitty planner – how I’m so inept, I can’t even figure out how to bathe myself in a timely manner? FUCK NO. Saying that out loud would make me sound like a totally incompetent prick.

I would rather drink soap than jerk my friends around, but having to make a call to change the plans waved a Wand of Truth over the actual shittiness of my behavior. I felt embarrassment. And whether I would have called or texted to express myself, the fact remains: Changing plans is a crappy thing to do to people. It should only be done if absolutely necessary.

What did I do instead of firing off the default “late” text? I blasted myself into overdrive and got out the door in-time. In fact, I arrived earlier than I expected. Amazing what the prospect of feeling shame does can do to incentivize a person. But why wouldn’t I feel shame morphing my commitment over text versus voice-to-voice?

In general, what makes flaking in the cloud easier than out loud?

Texting doesn’t feel real.

There’s no accountability. No heaviness to the consequences of our words; no true connection to the impact we’re making on the person on the other end of the text bubble.

There’s no uncomfortability. I wouldn’t have to feel the true sting of my bad behavior. I wouldn’t have to hear the disappointment or irritation in my friends’ voices. I’m seriously squirming just writing about having to do this.

Finally, we don’t have to tell the truth when we flake over text. My truth yesterday? I didn’t allocate my time well. That’s not easy to admit.

The truth wasn’t, in fact,  that I was going to be late.

Because guess what? I wasn’t late. I would have been if I thought I could get away with it. But because the truth of accountability was shoved firmly in my face, I stuck to my commitment.

I wasn’t as scummy of a human as I could have been, all because I couldn’t resort to texting.

Thanks, #textlesson #1. I have a feeling you’re the first of many. TC mark

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Image Credit: David Preston