Texting Sucks

When you think about it, texting has become an extremely common form of written communication. Consequently, it has become a form of writing, whether we like it or not. Most of the time, I love texting. It helps me stay connected with my family while I’m away, I can stay updated on what my housemates are doing, and my day can get a little brighter with funny texts or gifs my friends send me. However, there is a time and place for texting. Quite frankly, we are unaware of the context in which texting does not suit communication. And it can end up really, really awkward.

A few days ago, I texted my friend (keep in mind, he is a new friend that I met over the summer) about him setting me up with one of his friends for an event later this week. However, because most of the time texts include “haha” or “lol” in order to keep the conversation light, I tried to keep my request funny and light by explaining that I’m probably too old (no longer an underclassmen) to get set up. However, things took a wrong turn when he mistakenly thought I was asking him to be my date. This misunderstanding caused our remaining texts in the conversation to be awkward and strained.

I don’t think this miscommunication via texting is uncommon. Plain and simple, written communication must be interpreted without body language or facial expression, and therefore can be misinterpreted a lot easier. So then why do we insist on texting about every little thing in our lives? Doesn’t that just cause more time wasted and strain on relationships? Of course, I am definitely a culprit of this problem. I text about things that should probably be communicated verbally rather than¬†through writing.

In my business communications class, we talk about how most of the time, there is a standard format to deliver news to people. However, this format changes when you must deliver bad news. So as communicators, why do we still insist on sharing bad news over a light-hearted text rather than giving the other person what they deserve: a meaningful, face-to-face conversation?

Like I said, I by no means am an exception to this travesty of millennial communication. But I think it’s something to keep in mind. Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, texting is a form of writing that could and should be crafted carefully. Otherwise, you could end up in a very uncomfortable conversation that can be hard to transfer from writing ¬†through texting to verbal communication.

awk texting

Anna Prenzler

Anna is a senior studying business with a minor in writing at the University of Michigan. She believes you can never sing or laugh enough, and you must write things down for two reasons - to remember what happens in your life and to feel something.

3 thoughts to “Texting Sucks”

  1. Hi Anna,
    I especially love the picture you uploaded. I think it does an excellent job of illustrating the miscommunication that can occur through text. You bring up some really great points. Without the ability to rely on body language or intonation, it’s super hard to pick up on sarcasm and the specific contexts people are speaking in. For me personally, though, texting is a way to casually maintain a steady connection with someone. Be it family or friends, it’s nice to know what they’re doing, and to send a spontaneous “I’ve got to share this with you!” Not super important, but it’s nice to share moments with people.

  2. Hi Anna,

    I love this post. I think you are absolutely correct in that texting is sometimes an inapropriate manner by which to relay information. One thing I have learned in my texting experience is that via text message tone can come across in an opposite manner than originally intended due to a simpe lack for puntuation or lack of an “lol” to lighten the mood. I do not personally like to text, but I think it is rather efficient in some cirsumstances where verbal communication is not present. However it does limit the amount of intrapersonal communication whose exchange is, for lack of better words, necessary, to fully communicate between people.

    I love the photo also by the way. It was very funny and something I do with my mom weekly. Thanks for this post.

  3. Hi Anna,

    I love that your post provided multiple perspectives on texting – you recognized both the positive and negative aspects.

    Regarding the positive aspects of texting, I too appreciate how texting allows me to easily keep in touch with people. Especially at this time in our lives, when the people we care about are scattered around the world, it is very convenient to have a quick way of catching up. Emails, and other more formal written forms of communication, often require too much effort and therefore reduce the frequency with which we reach out to those we are interested in speaking with. But texting allows us to have informal, quick conversations on a regular basis.

    However, I agree with you that it is important that we recognize the limitations of texting as well as differentiate when texting is not the best/appropriate form of communication. I often find myself clicking the “new message” button on my phone, typing in a name, and then stopping myself, when I realize that this conversation needs to be had in person. These are some examples of the times when I stray away from texting and prefer in-person communication:
    -When body language is important
    -WhenI don’t want to get too caught up in the wording and I would rather have a free flowing conversation
    -When I don’t want my words to be saved on someone else’s phone to be used however they would like

    I think we should continue to use texting for all of the convenience and ease features that it offers. As long as you don’t forget to check yourself and differentiate which types of conversations would best be had in person.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Best,
    Nina

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