This Is Why Texting Is Actually Worse For Us Than Social Media

Woman standing alone looking down at her phone
Daria Nepriakhina

We’re all Flat Friends these days.

No, that’s not the title of a Drake song.

It’s a term I’m coining to describe people we interact with in the Flat World – the 2D screen.

Flat Friends didn’t used to exist. We had real friends. Or, we had friends we’d write back and forth to with the intention of connecting with over time. They were called Pen Pals.

Now, because of texting, we have a pocket full hungry, chirping pen pals at all times. They grab for our attention with the exact same priority as our parents and spouses. They drop in on our dinners. They join us in bed. They even sit with us on the toilet, for God’s sake. And we sit with them. And shit with them.

We’re living in the Flat, where our screens are a homogenized, even texting field. We play ball with people who don’t belong on the same field as our most beloveds. We’ve flattened our relationships. We’ve condensed our contacts. All texts matter.

It’s the one form of communication where we’re all equally reachable and the conversation never ends. 

I’ve gotten a ton of questions about why I’ve taken a break from texting instead of just eliminating social media. Way to go, guys – I love your curiosity and that’s a flipping fabulous inquiry. Let’s take a dive through my #textless journey, just a little over a week in.

The first few days of being #textless were an absolute biotch. It was devilishly tempting to replace texting with Facebook messenger of Instagram DM’s, out of convenience, reluctance, and addiction. I would have done anything to avoid a call…it really came down to that, I think. From your feedback, it seems like most of you would, too. Yet as I started to gather some ladyballs by doing things like calling a guy I met at a bar, Facetiming a crush, and calling a friend instead of hiding behind an “I’m busy” text, I found that I wasn’t resisting calls because they were inconvenient. I was resisting them because they were intimate.

Since I felt that niggling pull to the safety of a digital disguise, I decided to lay down some social rules. I became extra-keen to only using social platforms two times a day. If the convo could be a phone convo instead of a chat, I made sure to make it that. But if the convo was a picture or something I actually had to read, visually…social platforms were approved.

Social media as a texting substitute was alluring, yes. But it was pointing straight at my addiction to the comfortability and familiarity of texting, so I leaned on in to the ickiness. My self-control and discipline were definitely challenged. Which is healthy and empowering, when you practice. I highly recommend exercising awareness in this area if you haven’t given it a stab, already. I’m living proof, it can be done.

There’s more good news: my social media presence is still minimal and intentional. I actually feel I’m engaging in higher quality interaction on socials now that I’m, overall, more aware of my ‘Why the hell am I here?’ across the digital board. I don’t mindlessly scroll when I’m bored or uncomfortable.

So, today, after nine days of being #textless and feeling more clear, calm and connected than ever, I can firmly argue that social media is not the problem with our communication: texting is.

Think about it. We can completely control our settings and notifications on social media. We can customize our level of reachability. We can prioritize people who we’re closest with. We can hide people who annoy us. We can hide things away from some people. And yeah, we can block. We have total control, if we choose to use it.

We can even choose when we use it and when we don’t, we don’t have to be notified. We can arrive to our social media domain when we feel like it, and then leave the island. Some of us even say ‘fuck social media,’ entirely, and even though that’s not the norm, it’s acceptable. It’s even seen as a pretty badass statement.

And then, there’s texting. It’s a 100% mandatory method of participating in our world and we haven’t created reachability terms and conditions like we have with social media. We haven’t created rules.

Double whammy.

I don’t know about you guys, but I want to participate in the world better. I want us all to. Through #textless, I want to prove that it’s time to zoom in on something that’s been hiding in plain sight. It’s time to take charge of how we text, just like we control how we use social media.

I entered this experiment, under my own volition, with the intention of getting more intimate with my friends, family, lovers and myself. I’m not doing this to withdraw or hide. I’m doing this because I am burning to connect and be closer – and I’m tired of just complaining about it. I’m here to explore. I’m here to fail. And in all cases, I’m here to learn.

There is no way in hell I’m giving up texting forever, because I know it’s valuable in a few key contexts. I’m not giving up social media. I don’t really function in extremes, this is not all or nothing, forever. I’m not telling you to try it or buy in. This is not a “digital diet,” just so I can binge later on.

I simply feel it was necessary to 100% slash texting from my life to see what would come up. What would come out. What I would realize was hiding in me (and all of us) that’s been latent under the steady buzz of messages. And I am aching to share.

What I’m starting to wrap my mind and my heart around thus far is this: Texting is actually one of the most intimate forms of communication. It’s intimate because it’s invasive. It’s more invasive than a call. Texting trumps all. Texting is Trump, in digital form.

It’s non-consensual. We participate in it, even though we don’t want to, with people we don’t want to at times we shouldn’t.

It ends up in our hands, on our retinas, and in our psyches faster than anything else. Texts enters our bloodstream the fastest and give us the most instantaneous hit.

There are no settings, like there are with social media. If someone has our number, there are absolutely zero rules, zero regulations and zero boundaries. It’s time we write the rules, guys. Co-workers versus children, lovers versus landlords. No one versus The One. Without rules, They are all the same. They are all in our pockets. And so, we have Flat Friends. And we are Flat Friends.

I sure would love for us to all live in 3D.

#textless TC mark

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