“I know when that hotline bling, it can only mean one thing”



Deanna Crusco

“Enjoy your life.”

Those were the last words uttered by someone who used to be my best friend. Well, they weren’t technically uttered because it was said in a text message, but it felt as final as if they were in person.

This was the second time I let myself and this friend discuss something important via text message, once again resulting in a fatal destruction of our friendship. Somehow I thought confronting him via text was the best form of communication, but hindsight is always 20-20.

It’s unfortunate that growing up as a millennial has given us so much access to our loved ones that we often take for granted the simplicity of a face-to-face conversation. I constantly hear men and women alike evaluating the value of a friendship or relationship based on how many times a day they text a certain person. 

If someone does not respond within a few hours, they’re a jerk, or ignoring you or they’re just not that into you. If someone responds too quickly, they’re too eager, desperate or way too interested. At the ripe old age of 20 I think I’ve finally realized that texting is ruining my ability to communicate. 

I definitely cannot be the only one who tried to make a joke via text, or say something in a playful manner that ended up being completely misread and misunderstood. Text messages cannot convey your facial expression, the look in your eyes when you compose something heartfelt or even the tone of voice you’re probably using in your head as you write something sarcastic. 

The lack of non-verbal cues in text messages, and phone calls even complicates things even more. Emoji are supposed to be a fun way to express an emotion, but how easy is it to misinterpret one as creepy or weird (if you’re as overly analytical as I am).

Even the inherent differences between the ways men and women communicate makes the obstacle of texting the opposite sex an even larger issue. According to Deborah Tannen, an author and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University, women communicate in order to produce connections and convey emotion, while men communicate to offer information and establish status. Her research into this phenomenon became the basis for the genderlect theory, something Tannen elaborated on in her best-selling novel “You Just Don’t Understand.”

I’m not pointing this out to say that every woman is an emotional texter and every man is incapable of expressing emotion, but the fact that a distinguished “New York Times” bestseller acknowledged something I’ve been thinking my entire life makes me feel a bit better about my opinion on this subject. 

So, back to my personal problem. I can’t seem to control myself from pressing send, even when I know I’m discussing something that would best be spoken about in person. Something about being in constant communication with the people I care about is attractive to me. I know I’m not the only one, because I’ve found my friends seem to suffer from the same problem. We are constantly measuring our value by the amount of times a certain someone special chooses to respond to us. But isn’t texting communicating just for the sake of communicating? The basic function of a text message is simply just that.

“Hey, mom, I’m alive.” Those are the kinds of things I text my parents. Why? Because it functions as what a text is supposed to be, a simple, basic message that doesn’t require any thought. I’m communicating with her for the sake of communicating. When I’m in need of some advice or have some riveting story to tell, I’ll often save it for when I can see my parents in person. 

Why don’t we treat  all of our friendships with this kind of care and consideration? Isn’t talking about something serious or important more valuable when it’s done in person? The obvious answer is yes. But in this technology-obsessed, frequently over-stimulating world, I think my millennial status gets the best of me. I want reciprocation now, at this moment. I don’t want to have to wait till you get off from work or till the weekend. So I (or we) continue to act in ways I know I shouldn’t, and it always bites me in the butt afterwards. 

Hopefully if you’ve suffered from the same word-vomit that I have over text message, you’ll start to consider what I’m going to make a staple in my life. I refuse to continue to use text messaging as my main source of communication. I think we’d all be better off if we started to let go of our attachment to iMessage, Facebook message, Instagram message…you get the point. 

If there’s something on your mind, pick up the phone and call the person you’re dying to talk to. Plan a day to meet up. I was actually considering texting the same friend I already mentioned, but I’ll take my own advice here. I know if someone had something important to talk to me about, I’d value it more if I were told in person. So the next time you consider sliding into your friends DMs, don’t.