“Why does this Space fellow wish to engage in auditory-visual communication rather simple, regular text-based chat?”
Texting is really difficult and really distracting. If I’ve sent this to you, it’s because I want to talk to you but I don’t want to text, but’s it’s rather difficult to convey this in a single message, especially if you’ve just texted me something like “how are you” which is a really nice and considerate thing to ask but impossible to text a reply to and I couldn’t possibly start saying “i hate texting” in response to that because that’d be mean, hence - post.
Caveat: I think texting is still excellent for coordination. Eg. “Where are you?” “I’m outside on the green square” “Awesome, coming” or “Hey I’m free for next half hour wanna call?” Or “Hey wanna meet for dinner?”
1. Texting is distracting
Whenever you receive a text it juts you out of whatever you were doing. Eg. when you’re trying to complete a task, watch a show, speak to your brother, or literally anything. Being distracted from things is annoying.
It’s rude to whoever I’m talking to in real life to look at my phone, and distracting for both of us to hear the “beep”, even if I don’t react to it.
Your only alternative is to not do anything else, and just focus on the texting. But then either:
a. The other person is flicking between doing other tasks anyway, so you’ll be waiting for ages between their response
b. You’re both fully focused on the text conversation at the same time, in which case you could just call instead. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first I need to explain why texting is inferior to calling
2. Texting is difficult
It’s really difficult to get tone across in text. When I’m texting I need to keep worrying about whether I’m putting the right tone across and what message I want to be portrayed and worried about the other person interpreting what I’m messaging wrongly, like I’m bored or uninterested (say they use exclamation points and I typically don’t, or they don’t use exclamation points at a place I would want to, I’ll seem either super bland or super excited).
Talking is so much easier because I’m exponentially better at using my voice to accurately convey how I’m feeling. I can convey excitement, sadness, disappointment, joy, frustration, and anything in between instantly with my voice because I’m a human being. I don’t need to think about how to convey the thing I am conveying, I just say it.
3. Texting is slow
In real life, you see the other person’s face whenever you’re talking. You know what their reaction is to what you’ve said instantaneously. We humans really like validation, and in real life it’s instantaneous. Over text that takes forever.
Or over voice, it can be as simple as “hm”, for the other person to acknowledge they’ve heard and understand what you’ve said.
So in summary, if you’re both not there at the same time, texting is incredibly distracting to you trying to focus on anything else in your life, especially having conversations with other people in real life. And if you’re both there at the same time, texting is a medium that strips away tone and instantaneous feedback, making it a much more cognitively demanding and difficult medium of expression anyway, so if you are both there at the same time, you’d be better off calling.
But what are the effects of calling?
1. More focus
If you’re only ever calling anyone, then it’s either really obvious that you are indeed talking to someone right now, or you’re not. You’re not in a running conversation all day, and you aren’t being pulled away from trying to do anything with your life all day.
And there’s also of course that horrible feeling you get when someone sends a message that’s difficult to reply to, and you put off replying to it, and it hurts you throughout the rest of the day to just remember it exists. This just doesn’t happen. You are just free to know that the thing you’re doing is the only thing you’re doing.
Also, after a while you stop picking up your phone every three seconds to check if you have new messages, which is nice.
2. Scheduling vs Serindipitous
Replying to a single text is a lot easier than going out of your way to call someone. When you commit to only calling, you realise that there are a lot of people who you don’t think you’d have a tonne to talk about over call either, in which case you can’t excactly say “I don’t want to text, let’s call sometime”. So I send them this post????
I’m really sorry, I don’t know how to get this across nicely. If I actually sent you the essay, it means I think you’ll understand and I probably like you very much!
I just don’t like texting in general, even for my best of friends, but also I can’t think of what would be very meaningful if we purposefully hung out 1-1 with no extra activity, as opposed to meeting up over dinner if we go to the same school, or running into eachother serindipitously at a society.
I do want to catch up with you, I do want to know how you’re doing, but I don’t want to text and I currently just don’t have the desire to call you right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you.
I know it’s impossible with human beings to say something like this without you, the recipient, overcorrect and just going away thinking “Space doesn’t like me and doesn’t want to talk to me”. No.
I think more generally anyway, it’s somewhat required to have a chill 1-1 interaction to either be INSANSELY on the same page just by coincidence from the get go, or to spend a lot of time in group reactions getting to know eachother in a low stakes scenario, or having some other task to distract you from the fact that you’re getting to know someone - eg. Dinner or a walk or a reading group or a philosophy society or whatever.
Please try and imagine someone who you like, and honestly think you could be much closer friends with if history had gone differently, and you’d be happy to text them if you liked texting but you hate fully generally, it has nothing to do with the person, and as it stands you just wouldn’t want to go call them and would prefer seeing them in your community, and are tremendously curious to know how they’re doing then. Seriously imagine someone in your life like this. Maybe it’s a cousin? Maybe it’s a friend in your school?
Now imagine I think of you that way. Could you still remember the vital fact that I like you and I do enjoy talking to you?