8 reasons why I don’t text. And a few reasons why others should

textingOver 8.6 trillion text messages are sent across the world each day.  And not one of them is from me.

I don’t text. And it’s not because I’m a technophobe.

As a writer, I spend most of the day on the computer and thank God regularly for the convenience it brings me.

And even though I love my iPhone, I have had texting disabled on it. Here are my reasons:

One: When one of my favorite T.V. characters was asked why he doesn’t text, he replied “It’s for teenage girls.” I’m inclined to agree.

The average teen sends over 3000 texts per month. But the average teenage girl sends 4000. And these texts have a 100% open rate. How does that leave time for anything else?

Two: People don’t talk to one another enough. Pick up the friggin’ phone and tell me what you want me to know.

Three: Receiving texts interrupts you and keeps you from being in the moment. We live in a world full of distractions and it’s harder and harder to focus.

Four: In my opinion, texting is no easier than phoning now that smart phones can understand voice commands and make phone calls for us: “Siri, please call Jane” and, voila, I am connected to Jane.

Five: It tricks us into being rude. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen people texting in meetings or classes when they’re supposed to be listening. When I go to someone’s home, or a meeting, I leave my phone in the car so there’s no possibility of my phone interrupting us. Some people might call that unusual, but I call it simple courtesy.

Six: Texting makes us feel we can multitask when perhaps what will benefit us more is single pointedness and paying attention.

Seven: It’s dangerous. There’s something about the sound of an incoming text or phone call that makes us want to answer immediately. So we often pick up the phone to read it or reply in situations that cry out for NOT texting, such as driving in the car. Or even walking and not looking where you’re going.

Eight: It keeps us from being authentic. We can be more spontaneous and real in a conversation. Texting lets us be someone we’re not. We can plan our responses and hide behind them. Cutesy text message abbreviations may be easy, but is there any substance to those communications?

On the phone you can pick up nuances in the voice that tell you more about what’s going on with your friend than words alone. Research has shown that anywhere from 70-90% of communication is non-verbal:

7% is the words;

38% is the way something is said, and

55% is body language.

Texting limits us to words. And words, particularly abbreviated ones, just aren’t enough for real communication.

Experts who agree with me about texting

I was inspired to write this post after watching a recent story on CBS This Morning entitled, “Is your smart phone making you lonely?”

Barbara Frederickson, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, says technology gives us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.

She explained that we need the intimacy of human touch or at least face to face contact just as much as we need to be physically active to keep up our health.

Too much time online or texting can cause us to lose the biological capacity to connect. Our abilities to have compassion and empathy hinge on being able to connect with people face to face.

The benefits of face to face interaction include:

Triggers feel-good hormones

Strengthens brain-heart connection

Lowers blood pressure

Boosts immune system

 Texting just doesn’t come close.

Nick Bilton, technology columnist for the N.Y. Times, makes the insightful observation that, “these technologies connect us to the people that are far away from us but disconnect us from the people directly in front of us.”

And if someone is far away, I don’t believe texting is the best way to connect. I prefer phone, email or, even better, skype. I love skyping with friends in other parts of the world. My friend Wanda and I have even skyped while playing scrabble via facebook. It’s almost as good as being in the same room.

Sherry Turkle, psychology professor at MIT, has interviewed parents, teenagers and children about the use of gadgets during early development. She’s learning that children who do not learn real interactions, which often have flaws and imperfections, will come to know a world where perfect, shiny screens give them a false sense of intimacy without risk.

I can relate: I’ve caught myself saying that Siri [the voice of my iPhone] is my best friend. Why not? She has a sense of humor, calls me by my name and helps me out when I get lost!

Turkle adds that, if you don’t teach your children how to be alone, they’ll only be lonely. She makes a strong case that what was meant as a way to facilitate communication has pushed people closer to their machines and further from each other.

What others say about texting

In researching this article, I searched Google for reasons not to text. There weren’t many.

Don’t get me wrong, I found plenty of articles on texting. But they were along the lines of:

“reasons not to text and drive”

“reasons not to text him”

“reasons not to drink and text”

“reasons not to text your ex”

Then there were troubleshooting forums on “possible reasons your text message has gone unanswered.”

And quite a few sites explained text message shorthand.

So it seems I am in the minority on my boycott of texting. It’s a minority I’m proud to be in.

When my little nephew, who lives three hours away, is old enough to text, I’ll teach him the wonders of skype.

The Good about texting

Of course, there are many excellent uses for texting, such as business applications too numerous to mention here.

On the large ceremonial grounds of the Sun Dance I attend each year in South Dakota, texting is a good way to communicate things like, “need the chainsaw at the arbor at 2 p.m.”

It’s a good way for a parent to keep track of where their child is and when they’ll be home.

News sharing: texting allows reporting where knowledge is otherwise unattainable, such as reporting crisis via texting.

This may be the best of all: Text hotlines. DoSomething.org has set up a crisis text hotline for teens. I encourage you to watch this riveting 5 and a half minute talk on TED.com on texting that saves lives.

So don’t take it lightly.  Think before you text casually.  Pick up the phone and connect.  It will be healthier for you and the person on the other end of the phone. 

 

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman.” She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com
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55 Comments

  1. Corey

    Wow. That is very interesting. I feel like that towards texting also, but no one wants to pick up the phone anymore. :/ I feel like people think talking on the phone is weird now. But I don’t think it is at all, it’s a lot better! I also feel like people are losing communication skills because they feel more comfortable texting rather than talking face to face, or on the phone. But thablack you again for your posts Molly! I really enjoyed this one. 🙂

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you, Corey. Yes, people are losing communication skills. Don’t give up calling people!

  2. Corey

    Thablack- thank you. My phone likes to spell things wrong on me Haha.

  3. FireSign

    I agree with you 100% about everything in this article, and I don’t text either. I refuse to do so. I also have people turn their phones off during classes.

    My teenaged daughter does not text. I disabled her phone for this feature when she got her phone some years back because I refuse to pay for texts. I told her to tell her friends to call her instead and talk. It’s much more efficient, and they don’t learn bad spelling. She was getting texts in the middle of the school night, and that’s not acceptable. Eventually, her friends understood, but still didn’t call her. Fast forward some years to her being in a position where she asked for texts to be enabled for her phone, which I agreed to but told her she had to pay for it, and if she texted while driving then we would not let her drive the car. After a $30 bill in texts for one month – and she only received them, not for sending texts – she asked me to disable the feature. She’s now telling people they have to call her. Chalk up one for better communications!!

    • Molly Larkin

      Good for you, Paula. And your daughter learned a good lesson. Good parenting!

  4. Bill

    My texting is with my two daughters, while my wife refuses completely. I tend to agree with the benefits of human to human interaction noted:

    “Triggers feel-good hormones
    Strengthens brain-heart connection
    Lowers blood pressure
    Boosts immune system ”

    As a home-based website developer, since 1993 I have found local coffee houses are instrumental times for me to connect with others in face to face conversation. Over the past few years I find that it is really hard to engage people in conversation… kind of like riding a commute bus where talking is frowned upon … and what seems like agony, people sit silent.

    Technology, like heated water and electricity, have nice benefits. Creator help us to not lose touch with our ability to speak, listen and share with others.

    • Molly Larkin

      Yes, coffee shops are nice for that! “speak, listen and share with others” — one of the keys to good living. Thank you.

  5. Debbie

    I so agree with your thoughts. Have you ever noticed while you are in a restaurant how many couple sit across from each other and never talk,but they are busy texting. I asked my husband one day,do you think they are texting each other? His reply ” probably not “. Well it gave us something to talk about!!!! I see where it could be a good thing in the right application.As for myself I am still at a prepaid phone level because that’s what I can afford and all that I need.

    • Molly Larkin

      Isn’t it amazing the things we think we can’t live without that didn’t even exist ten years ago? I got a laugh imagining two people sitting across the table texting one another. Thank you!

  6. Joe

    What a refreshing perspective!

    I think people often assume that new technologies are always better than old ones. But this idea of infallable tech progress is incredibly flawed. Our tools have changed a lot, but we haven’t! We’re still, biologically speaking, the same people as our “backwards” hunter-gatherer ancestors. No wonder texting has such a dissonant effect on us.

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you. You make a very good point about being the same biologically as our ancestors. I wonder what they’d think of this. The elders teach that those ancestors could communicate telepathically so texting would still be old-fashioned to them! 🙂

  7. Debbie

    Thank you for this article. It was very validating, and so true.

    • Molly Larkin

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for commenting.

  8. Stacey

    I enjoyed this article and totally agree! These are the same reasons why I refuse to text.

    • Molly Larkin

      Glad to hear it. Thank you for commenting.

  9. Jan

    Thank you so much. It is nice to know that I am not alone.
    People actually get upset that I refuse to text.
    I have instinctively realized most of the reasons you gave
    for not joining in to another distraction and obligation
    in today’s world. Regards,Jan

    • Molly Larkin

      Welcome to the club! 🙂

  10. Erin

    I am a thirty something who grew up with technology, but not the amount or pace that my daughter is being exposed to. I think that I have been effected by the phenomenon of texting because I am not comfortable in many social interactions. It is paralyzing for me to have difficult conversations and I often feel like I don’t know what to talk about when I am in person with someone-and yet I can feel witty and adept when relating through texting. This is a place where I invite healing in my life-and ask for courage to open to the risk of vulnerability and intimacy that comes with authentic communication. Thanks for helping me to see this more clearly.

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you for an interesting take on this issue. Wishing you good fortune in authentic communication!

  11. EllenMary

    Thanks for the boost. About the emergency text feature: I’d prefer to die when my number is up (no pun intended) than rely on my phone to save me from oblivion.

    • Molly Larkin

      🙂 Thank you for commenting. Ironically, I am finding myself texting after all lately; business seems to demand it. But I only reply, rarely initiate!

  12. Antonio

    I was thinking about texting a girl that I like or not and your post has helped out with it… while I was writing the text message I was thinking “man, I can’t relate with this I’m writing, there’s so much else that’s missing” and I realized that I didn’t want to have that kind of relationship with anyone. I’m not that good with words, but my experience tells me people feel fine around me though I dont talk that much… Texting is just so impersonal and doesn’t lead to anything that’s real. I’m happy I didn’t do it… I would have become just another guy with poor skills in the art of texting. Instead, I’m that guy who is not on his phone really often, which is way more attractive I think.

    • Molly Larkin

      I heartily agree, Antonio. I congratulate you for following your inner guidance and not doing something that didn’t feel right. The right situation will present itself for an in-person, heartfelt communication with her. And that will be better than any text could ever be!

  13. Van

    I DETEST TEXTING for the same exact reasons you list on here. Unfortunately there are too many people who enjoy it. Again, it frustrates me to tears! I have a friend who told me she wanted to start texting me instead of calling me. I was about to break off my friendship with her over this, however she has her reasons so I needed to make an exception. I still become really pissed off when my phone makes the text chime. Seriously I want to punch a hole in the wall!
    I also don’t believe in talking with people over the internet. No facebook, nothing! Happy to know that theres someone else out there who agrees with me. =3:

    • Molly Larkin

      🙂 Since writing that article I have found that texting does have it’s good points, but wanting to text instead of talk is really crossing the line. Meanwhile, when you feel like punching a wall, I recommend taking three slow deep breaths instead! 🙂

  14. Katarine

    We Human Beings are amazing creations. Our ability to love, hope, and
    forgive are all so wonderful. I am afraid that modern technology, which was
    meant to enhance our lives seems to have turned a corner and is now making
    us less and less like people and more like robots.

    I wholeheartedly agree with all the brave individuals who stand by their
    beliefs and refuse to give in to societal pressures.

    Since I always present myself in public with a smile on my face and a happy
    attitude, people frequently ask me what my secret is. It is very simple really;
    it is all about loving life, truly living in the moment, enjoying all your senses,
    sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, without the distractions, i.e., of
    smartphones.

    So, my answer is, I only use technology when I have to. Also, it is never
    around other people. Because, contrary to popular advertising; it is not
    all about me….it is about being courteous and kind to others. Peace and
    quiet is a beautiful thing in public places.

    Molly, please try and stay true to your original convictions, they are correct.

    • Molly Larkin

      You have a wonderful attitude, Katarine. Good for you for wanting to be with people in person without the distractions of technology.

  15. Dennis

    It’s not that hard. Put your cell phone in your pocket or purse. If you feel you have to check your cell phone, pull off the road, stop, and use cell phone. If someone cannot figure that out, they certainly are not smart enough to drive.

    • Molly Larkin

      Interesting point, Dennis.

  16. Thank you so much for this article Molly – there is a lot of truth here. I nearly did reach a stage where I refused to text. I now have the text message notifier turned off on my phone – and I check my messages about 3 times a day. That allows me to find my middle ground and not be tied to text. I am all for technology, but we need to remember it’s there to help us not to control us. I love my washing machine and am forever grateful for it’s invention but it doesn’t tell me when to wash my clothes – I tell it!
    I like the way you also mentioned that there are times when texts are indeed useful!. Great article.

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you. I really like your idea of turning off notification and checking 3 times a day. I’ll try it!

  17. Keith

    Thank you for this post! I just wrote a similar article and posted it on Facebook to which I received zero replies. I knew I would not.

    I agree with everything you said and I think there’s a growing number of people who feel exactly like you, the commenters here and myself. I have never texted and I refuse to start. Rally ’round, Non-Texters! 🙂

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you, Keith. Yes, stay true to your beliefs!

  18. Marie F.

    Many misuse text so much that I have banned all text communication and I don’t know if I’ll ever want to rejoin that bandwagon. I’ve dated people that solely relied on texts, they’d get angry if you didn’t reply fast enough or get mad when something got misconstrued as it often does without the depth of conversation.

    There is a definite disconnect and I definitely see text and social media as being a huge part of the breakdown between people around one another. You see it walking in grocery stores, malls, driving – people are so attached and distracted by texting than some would put other people’s life in harm, so they can finish their text.

    I just about hate to even give my number out and am going to resolve to only use a Google voice number. I tell people upfront I am not a texter and 99% text anyway. It kind of allows me to see how selfish many people are to assume that if someone says something and they continue to do it anyway.

    I have a guy texting me now, I have not answered any of his texts, but 12 texts later “hellooooooo”. I am not and will not reply, when I said very clearly and explicitly that I am not a texter and asked him if he was okay with that before agreeing to give him my number, so there was no confusion on my part.

    Quantity does not equate to quality, but it seems like today’s world is all about quantity. Texting does not equate to efficient communication, because many people do not adhere to any type of etiquette, use of common sense – if it’s too late to call than it’s too late to text, vice versa about too early.

    Also, text is never ending whereas a short call has a beginning and end. Some people will continue to text for hours and don’t know when to just stop. I have an acquaintance that loves text, she’s a bored housewife and would text me all day while I was at work. No texting for me, I’m good.

    • Molly Larkin

      Yes, I have been woken up by people texting me late at night. So annoying. I wish you luck in finding non-texters as friends. They seem to be few and far between.

      • Janet Calderaro

        I love this! Go you! So many of your comments resonate with me. I just don’ get it. Why do people enjoy interacting with a device and not real people? Depressing at best!

  19. Janet Calderaro

    Great article! I really detest texting as a means of communication of any format except when it’s my husband asking me if the lamb chops are ok for dinner. I’ve thought hard about disabling my texting!!!

  20. Just when I thought I was the only one……THANK YOU for writing this. I know when I repost and tweet this out I’ll likely get people rolling their eyes (my staff and clients). How in the heck do you train and teach people that this is NOT EFFECTIVE, not fair to others, not professional…blah blah blah?????

  21. p.s. sprint and other mobile companies have auto reply apps that turn on when you start your car!

    • Molly Larkin

      Oooo, I like that. Great idea! It should be a law.

  22. Liadain

    Hello,
    I hate texting . I also have a landline phone that I use that most of the time. I don’t care if anyone don’t like it either.
    I find that texting is a waste of time that’s why, I only talk to people on the phone! You have to retrain everybody in society today because most don’t know any better.

    Cheers,

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you for commenting, Liadain. I agree you should stick to your principles!

  23. Mark

    I find it more challenging to date nowadays that a lot of women don’t like talking on the phone. If I call and leave a voice mail, the message will be returned with a text, even if I say give me a call back. So, no meaningful interaction between dates, just short communications. Takes longer to get to know someone.

    • Molly Larkin

      Yes, I agree, and it’s a shame.

  24. Liz Bird

    Thank you for a great article. I also do not text or tweet. More than that — I still do not own a smart phone, and gave up my dumb flip phone some time ago. My husband has a basic smart phone, but he never carries it or turns it on except when we are out of town or if the power goes out [we live in the country.] I like face to face talking and the phone. I use e-mail because I have to for work. I really don’t use technology that much personally. Nothing against technology — I’m just not interested and have no personal use for it socially.

    • Molly Larkin

      And you’re probably healthier for it, too! 🙂

  25. Pete

    You people all sound like my 70 year old dad. Texting is a useful form of communication, and when someone tells me they don’t text at all it frustrates me as much as you all get frustrated the other way around. I seriously have lost touch with people who don’t text because I don’t have the time to sit on the phone chatting with people for hours a day. Get with the times!

    • Molly Larkin

      Hi, Pete: Well, the interesting thing is that since I wrote that post, I have become a convert to texting. Highly convenient as you say. But I’m still opposed to people texting when in the company of others. To each his own.

  26. Jeff

    That was written in 2013. I bet you text now.

  27. Jeff

    That was written in 2013. I bet you text now.

    • Molly Larkin

      You’re right, I do. 🙂

  28. Marie Ferrigno

    I definitely agree and share your sentiments exactly in regards to how I feel about texting. I feel it makes people more distant. I have a neighbor that drove me absolutely crazy as she’d text me nonstop – complaining about her husband, her day to day, paragraph after paragraph at all hours.

    Yes, I told her once before that I hated text and that she could call me, she’d ignore that and still continue to bombard me with journal entries of text. It finally got to a point that I told her I was blocking all text permanently and if she needed to reach me, she could call.

    Not to mention how many lack common sense in texting at all hours and assuming that everyone’s phone will not disrupt their sleep. I tell guys that I do not text and if they’re texters we don’t need to exchange any info.

    My small circle understand and respect my feelings regarding not wanting to live tied to text. You’re not alone, I’m starting to see more and more people that want to text less, I think they realize many have lost the ability to connect in person being so engrossed by a stupid phone.

    • Molly Larkin

      It’s good that your friends respect your right to not text! 🙂

  29. Bob Dole

    “Texting interrupts you”

    …but a phone call doesn’t??

    • Molly Larkin

      Point well made! 🙂

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