12 Most Practical Reasons to Increase Talking Over Texting
I arrived in my college classroom early one day. As I pulled materials out of my bag, my eye darted outside the window. What I saw saddened me: A row of students perched against a wall. Were they engaged in conversation? No. All with their faces buried in their phones, fingers flying.
What happened to standing outside of the classroom, making tentative, then sustained eye contact with others, and striking up impromptu discussion about… well… anything? In that moment, I realized the reality of this new communication world and the perpetual diminishing of face-to-face, human connection.
College students hardly corner the market on what I witnessed that day. “Everybody’s doing it” applies heartily to the vast population who rely on texting as their primary, and, in some cases, sole communication tool. I, on the other hand, love voices. I love richness, depth, and context. I text as little as I can. I’ve felt forced to jump on the bandwagon, particularly when I realized that in order to reach some in my midst, I have little choice. But I’m vocal about my dislike of texting, and I often request a return to talking. Here’s why:
1. Saving time
In the minutes it takes to punch out six back-and-forth exchanges with my husband or a friend about the five W’s of kid-pick-up, I could have been long off the phone and enjoying a few extra moments of “me” time. This is likely true for most logistically driven text messages that don’t result in presumed time savings.
2. The gift of inflection
Let’s say someone texts, “No, I’m not going.” Depending on your history with that person, your relationship, latest experiences, and even personal mood, you may read 10 different subtexts into that four-word sentence. Return to vocal cues and you bring back the gift of pitch and tone. Then, you’ll know if the person just isn’t going or if they’re “NOT going!”
3. Impromptu add-ons
When a couple of friends increased texting over talking, I noticed we saw each other less. Texting is often task-oriented. During real conversations, we take our thoughts, ideas, plans, and those of another, to unexpected places. There’s a sense of mystery, a world of possibility, and a moment to pause and say, “Hey, do you want to go…?” Sure, texting can bear out those conversations, but there may not be energy or time once the “business” is done.
A long-time, long-distance friend who always texts, but rarely talks, will ask, “How are the kids?” If she wants more than “Fine”, having an actual conversation will enable me to really tell her.
5. Vision preservation
I just picked up my first pair of reading glasses. Yes, I’m in my early 40s, but my perpetual squint on miniscule letters can’t be helping. I want to believe that bringing back authentic conversation will slow declining vision.
6. Hearing “goodbye” again
I like to believe I’m good at identifying closure cues. Texting flummoxes me in this area. I can count on few fingers how many texters in my life actually say, “Okay, I have to go now. See you later.” Instead, time passes with no response, and the silence says farewell. I like distinct closure.
7. Getting more of the story
A friend texted that she wanted to share something serious. On a drive out of town (my husband was at the wheel), I feebly attempted to follow the line of discussion—her couple sentences starting the tale, then my response, and then more from her, then my questions about the first couple of sentences (and she was already on to thought #3). I finally said, “Let’s schedule a conversation.” When we did, I followed the chronology without fail and asked for clarification when I needed it.
8. Confusion reduction
A friend asked me to pick up a limited stock item at Costco for her child, but there were many variations of the product. Even though we tapped out single sentences, I was still unsure exactly which crazy-discounted American Girl pet she wanted: Honey, Praline, or Sugar?
9. Meeting another’s eyes
I don’t have to elaborate on the layers of negative connotation that go along with lack of eye contact in our society. Looking another person in the eye as they speak gives us connection and clarity of a message. Eye contact with the iPhone doesn’t quite produce the same result.
10. Reduced risk of collision
Walking and texting at the same time means that one’s head is down. If your head is down and your feet are in transit, the possibility of person-to-person (or person-to-wall/door/window) collision is quite high. Talking means your head is up. Yes, sometimes cocked to the side while holding the phone, but you can see what’s coming your way… and avoid it.
11. Getting more done
When I talked on the phone, I was an excellent multitasker. I could hold a conversation while doing laundry, the dishes, and even cook dinner. Now, although I can get those same things done, when I’m in a text conversation, every few minutes, I have to look back at my phone, infuse my response, and then try to recapture my productive rhythm.
12. Go hands-free
There is no denying that texting requires hands and fingers. In tandem with #11, getting more done often requires hands and fingers. Talking, either face-to-face or via phone, brings your hands back to you… for gestures or for tasks.
I don’t believe people will stop texting, nor that they should. Texting has undeniable conveniences. What concerns me is how much texting has replaced verbal communication for so many. In fact, my friends with older children say texting is often the only medium to which their teens-to-young adults will respond. No wonder so many college students are propped against walls, not interacting with those standing a little more than arm’s length away.
For those of us who are not quick to text and prefer to talk, I say let’s keep the momentum going. I know I will keep picking up the phone when texting becomes too tedious, too confusing, or… too lonely. I realize I may be forcing others out of their comfort zones when I say, “Hey, can we move this to a discussion?” The richness and depth of verbal and nonverbal connection is quite worth it to me.
If all else fails, I’ll blame reduced texting and increased talking on my rapidly failing eyesight.