Texting, Texting…What Happened to Talking?

OK.  I admit it.  I’ve fallen into a vat of techno-poopie.

Not exactly sure when I crossed over from talking to people with actual words coming out of my mouth…..to now, where the words, as few as possible, are coming out of the end of my fingers via text. But I have.  I realized recently, that I actually have started to dread talking to ANYONE on the phone. And, I hate that.

Texting (and emailing too) has seduced us into thinking this gets things done easier and faster. And, the added bonus is that we don’t actually have to “deal” with real, live people, who might slow us down with THEIR own comments or questions.

Two things have happened recently to make me realize how wrong it might be to continue to let technology replace human interaction with “characters” that call upon us to be as brief and bare bones as possible with one another. Ultimately, I believe it exacerbates MISSED communications and sends us into a state of “wondering what they meant by that”, more often.  It opens the door for unecessary hurt feelings too, when we assume the sender’s tone of voice, yet have no clue.

Case #1.

My husband and I wanted to invite a couple who had purchased property in the country where we have just built a house.  We are making a effort to create new friendships with people who might become our “neighbors” as well.  So, after the wife thanked me via email for putting together a newly revised “owners contact list” for the whole community, I responded to her via email. This time it was with an invitation for drinks at our house in town, then dinner out, at a nearby restaurant. CC’s went to the husbands. A date a few weeks forward was set via more emails, back and forth. Then, as the date neared, I sent a “looking forward to getting together” email reminder since so much time had elapsed.

This IS the new way of being “social” is it not???

The wife, sent me a “yes, confirmed and looking forward to it” but she went on to confirm a different time than we originally invited them for.  She was also concerned about directions to our house/apartment, a high-rise in the middle of downtown Dallas.  So, knowing that people who come to our place for the first time, are often intimidated by the side streets and multiple entrances to our building…..I sent her a lovely email directing her to the “Directions to our Place” attachment which I had created several years before. And, I also mentioned that the time to come was 6:30, letting her know that my husband and I would be getting there just minutes ahead of them because of our own schedules that day.

On the afternoon of the evening……she texted me to say she was still concerned about getting to our place at 6:00.  I texted her back with additional simple directions, and with another ever-so-lovely “not to worry”… the valet parkers will direct you to the correct/closest entrance.  I signed off with “See you at 6:30.”

At this point, it actually occurred to me that I COULD CALL HER for all the clarifications necessary. And, I could just say a “friendly hello.” But something stopped me.

I found myself wondering how much time had actually already been spent, back and forth…..emailing and texting one another?  But, I just thought about it….because I was in a rush and this IS the new way things get done.  This is the new way people get invited to your house for the first time.  Everybody does it. Right?

My mother, who stood over me while I wrote thank-you notes in cursive, with an ink pen…..after writing a first draft for her approval….would roll over in her Jr. League pearls and whack me over the head with her handbag. (She was buried with her handbag…it never left her side.) We spent hours selecting just the right note cards and buying special stamps to create “thank-you’s” befitting our genteel upbringing.

But, back to now…..where whole words are in serious jeopardy.

My “new friend” texted again, as they were leaving for our house to let me know they were “running late”…..and might not be leaving their own house before 6:30.

Had I seen her text, I would have been relieved but because I was racing around, trimming off the dead flowers, turning on the music, getting out the ice and adult beverages, brushing teeth and adding more spackle to  very tired face, I had no clue.  My phone was in another room.

So, that brings up another point about the way we do things these days.  Is YOUR phone velcroed to a belt on your hip?  Mine’s not. Mine is always at the bottom of my ridiculously huge tote bag. Or in the other room, completely. It seems to find a way to turn itself to SILENT at some times…..I know I have not done that myself!

Yet, we send things to people, transferring responsibility for OUR communications, reaching them……expecting THEM to get back to US…..when who knows WHEN they might actually see it.

Then, don’t we get in a little huff, when our texts and emails are not returned? We seem to have some inner “time clock” about the length of time we think is appropriate to wait for someone else’s response.

Where is Emily Post when we need her? She and my mother used to agree that a written note of thanks had to be sent within 7 days of receiving a gift or after dinner in someone’s home.  How horse and buggy does THAT seem these days?

Whatever happened to…….

“Hello.  This is Peggy.  We are so looking forward to seeing you at our house at 6:00 next Wednesday night. If you need directions, since the first time finding us can be tricky, please let me know.  I can email you our address for you to use your GPS.  If that doesn’t work, I would be happy to give you directions over the phone. Bye now.”

Assuming that was just a phone message left for our future guests….it was delivered in 23 seconds.  Delivered in a relaxed and friendly voice with authentic enthusiasm, and concern for their comfort. A human voice, making a connection.

The closest thing I get most days to a human voice, is a recorded one, yelling at me……”Wait…..Don’t hang up until you hear this special offer!!!”

Case #2.

Texts can fall off the cliff in the mountain of messages. When you have a day where you might be receiving a lot of texts from different people, it is so easy to miss one altogether. Then, feelings can get hurt or at the very least, people get perplexed by what might seem like utter rudeness or rejection because of your lack of response.

That’s what happened just the other day, as we were headed out to our weekend house.  We decided to spontaneously ask some of our neighbors over for dinner, since we were on our way to pick up barbecue at a local country joint. We needed to know if they were coming so we could order enough food for everyone.

So, did I call everyone?  No way.  Texting seemed like the best and fastest way to issue the invite AND determine a head count.

One couple was a  YES.  The other, we did not hear from.  At all.

The only thing was…..little did I know…..not only did the wife text back, saying they could not come…..but she added an invitation for the following night to go out to a local dive for dinner as a larger group, including even more neighbors.

Because of all the other texts I received that afternoon and evening, I did not see hers.

The next day, her husband, called my husband……asking why I had not responded to his wife’s email.  Of course, I had not gotten an email. The guys had our mode of technology wrong. So, one more nail in the communications coffin.  Now, each wife was wondering what happened to the other.

She texted me again the afternoon of the group dinner she was arranging…..asking me if I had received her earlier text.  But this time, I had the phone turned off completely for a fantastic Saturday afternoon power nap which lasted until after 7:00pm. Oblivious and blissful….I was having a great day off the grid.  Little did I know more  texting and more feelings were getting more complicated.

By the time I saw her late afternoon text, the whole group had already gone to the “big dinner” without us.  We were now in text jeopardy…..being non-responsive and all. Now, we were the ones who had “blown everybody off.”

This morning I received another text from her, saying she was so sorry if I thought she hadn’t texted me about not coming Friday night.  And, she was additionally sorry that we missed her invitation in that same text.  She hoped I wasn’t thinking SHE was rude and leaving us out of the fun they all had the night before. She was concerned that my feelings were hurt which is why I had not gotten back to her as yet. Could she make it up to me by going out for a morning walk?

Brother.

I did not get THAT text until later either because I had slept in,  Then I ambled out of bed and took a long shower, washing the globs of conditioner out of my hair.  Sunday mornings, we watch CBS SUNDAY MORNING…the only TV show all week, we hate to miss.  While the show is on, in lieu of taking a 10,000 step morning hike, I cook us a 10,000 calorie (at least) breakfast. Not one iota of concern for the technological advances in my life. A couple of hours later, I looked at my phone.

UH OH.

Can something so simple get any more convoluted?

So, the moral of the story…….

What happened to talking?  Voice to Voice. Kindness, conviviality, new friendships in the making and long-time friendships further cemented with the glue of warmth and humor and loving concern.

So, the best and easiest way to have avoided all these missed texts and mis-understood feelings would have been much more simple and efficient.

While in the car, on the way to a great weekend in the country, I could have….. just spontaneously called my new friend and asked if she and her husband could come for a impromptu picnic on Friday night.  I could have said  we were stopping on the way to the house to get some barbeque.  She could have said “NO….we aren’t coming until Saturday….but let’s get a group together for dinner Saturday night.  Would THAT work for you?” I could have said, “Great, what time?”  She could have told me.

That would have taken approximately 28.3 seconds. (I timed it on my stop watch…..on my phone, of course.)

 

 

 

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