I just watched a really compelling video that my brother in law, who is an insurance agent, posted on Facebook. It was about text messaging while driving killing or crippling people. All over one silly message, such as “Yeah” or “Where r”. I think most of us have done it, I’ll admit, I’ve even been a culprit of doing it from time to time. I’m trying to make a conscientious effort NOT to do it because I know how dangerous it is, but most of us have. It’s kind of funny that when text messaging first started to get big, I was just fresh out of high school- back when most cell phone plans didn’t have unlimited texting. The plan I was on at the time actually started out that you had to pay 20 cents for each message sent or received, so it really wasn’t something that I had any interest in doing because at the time, paying a higher rate for calling someone long distance was still pretty fresh in my mind and spending the extra money, especially as a newlywed, just seemed ridiculous. Smart phones really weren’t in yet (these were the years of Nokia and flip phones- which were SUPER cool). And back then, the whole debate wasn’t texting and driving; it was talking on your phone and driving which I was not an advocate of. But still, back then, people actually got on their phones and physically talked to others. This isn’t an ancient long time ago, but merely 10 years ago. Back in the early-mid 2000s.
Today, while I don’t want to expound on the physical deaths that texting has caused, I want to focus on the emotional and social “deaths” that have happened because of it. If you were born in the 1980’s or before, this probably has had more of an effect on you than it would have for someone born in the 1990’s on out who really hasn’t known much of their more “grown up” life without texting. This is something I have put a lot of thought into lately. I have thought, what is wrong with me: I have friends, but something is missing that use to be there. This video that I watched today totally brought in to focus what has truly been wrong.
Back when I was a kid, when I wanted to do something with my friends or tell them the latest news, I would call them up and we would talk. We didn’t have all this social media or text messaging to keep in touch. You had to physically pick up the phone and dial them or wait until you saw them in school the next time. Or if you had a pen pal assigned to you in your English class, you actually had to write a physical letter and send it to them and wait for them to send a physical letter back. Now if you want to communicate with someone, you can just text or PM them on Facebook or if you want to share your life with a million people, you can write a post. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these media outlets when used like a little salt for flavor, but we as a society have gotten to where we are relying so much on these things and really it is killing us emotionally and socially.
How many times do you “hang out” with your friends but you all do something else. Because of the ease of having our smart phones by us and unlimited texting plans, we can physically have a friend over to have coffee with us and be talking to another friend about what’s going on at the same time. We are no longer solely focusing on the friend that is there with us because there’s so many other things going on in the media world. I really try not to do this with my friends because I want them to know when I invite them to hang out, they are more important to me than what is going on with Sammy or Suzie at that current second. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of doing this with a few of my most important relationships though: that of my husband and my kids. And I feel bad when I realize that I have. Some days we’ll be out driving and Nick will be talking to me and I realize at that moment (because it’s so incredibly important- said with sarcasm) that I really just need to get on Facebook and check what happened with so and so because I had been following the saga of the issue with their cousin’s friend’s girlfriend’s son. In that moment, my focus shifts and I completely block out what Nick is saying. Then I’ll realize he’s paused for a second waiting for me to say something, and what comes out of my mouth but “yeah”. Well, this is when I realize he was testing me and asking me if he can go buy a new $40,000 tractor tomorrow, to which in my normal right mind I would say “no”. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my kids to “hold on” or lifted my index finger to them signaling for them to wait because what I was reading on my smartphone was so much more important.
Texting and social media has really created a state of ADD for many of us as well, myself included. It seems I don’t have the focus that I use to on conversations. I am so use to that quick little “yeah” or “idk” or reading what they are doing on Facebook that to actually talk to someone, it’s become a struggle for me to find a conversation of substance (and I promise you, I use to be able to talk about anything- I wasn’t a jabber jaw, there just was more conversations available). If I want to text a friend, “what r u doing on Sat”, I can text them instantaneously and my phone will light up and I have a response back, plus I can at the same time text Sally and have a completely different conversation with her. And actually while I was writing this last sentence I jumped when my phone just lit up that I had a message hoping it was one of my friends and it was yet another text from a taco restaurant, which is a by-product of texting induced ADD. And forget normal conversations about day to day life. I already know Suzie Q went on vacation and had a grand old time and posted all her pictures on Facebook. Where I would have use to ask her, “I remember you telling me about going to visit your grandma in Nepal, how did it go?”, now she is posting pictures of her and the abominable snow monster of the north and big foot while she is in Nepal with her grandma, so it has really eliminated the need to ask and for a conversation that could have lasted for a decent amount of time.
This video today really made me realize that there is not something that is wrong with me with my friendships, but that social media and texting has just taken a lot of it away. And because of it, there are some days I feel a social and emotional death because my relationships aren’t as full as they use to be. And it hurts inside because I have let them get that way because of my obsession with the different medias out there.
Today, I resolve to work on changing that, to reverse any damage that might have been done, and to help myself feel more full as a social being again. To my husband, my kids, my family, friends, and acquaintances, I make this commitment to you: I will work on being more in the moment when we’re together and not attached to my phone and the outside world. I will work on calling you more instead of sending you a quick text to discuss things. I will work on not following everything you’re doing on Facebook so that way we can have something to discuss when we talk. And I will work on being a better and more connected with you at the moment friend when we are together. Maybe somehow, someway, this vicious media cycle can begin to reverse before we’ve gone too far that we can’t go back, and I know we’re not at the point of no return, yet.