Texting: Toxic or Tactical?

Image by Alex TolleImage by Alex Tolle

When you walk into a classroom before class, how often do you see people on their cellphones instead of talking to the other people in the room? We live in a technological age, where smartphones are prevalent and often the norm. This applies not only to McDaniel College but also a majority of the modern world. However, texting has much more drawbacks than benefits.

On average, people 18-24 who use cell phones send about 109.5 text messages a day, which shows that texting is a primary method of communication.

Texting does have its benefits – it allows for quick communication and the ability to communicate with people who are not in our immediate vicinity; however, in the long run, texting can impair the development of interpersonal communication skills.

Sherry Turkle is a psychologist who studies how technology effects relationships. She stresses the importance of face-to-face conversations, but describes how things like texting are impairing this.

She compares the rise of texting as the primary source of communication with the fact that a face-to-face conversation happens in real time and cannot be edited. With texting, people can present the best version of themselves.

Humans, by nature, are imperfect creatures. By depending on texting and other technology so much, we become withdrawn. Texting does not allow us to fully develop intimate relationships. If we are so connected to our phones, than we cannot truly connect emotionally. We have a desire to form companionship, but we have a fear of intimacy.

As we graduate from college and move into the professional world, we need to have the ability to speak with other people. In a business setting, we cannot depend solely on texting – we need to do things like have the confidence to speak to a boss or give a presentation. We cannot slip away into our cell phones if we feel uncomfortable or unwilling to have a conversation.

To completely remove texting from society would be an unrealistic idea; however, our interpersonal skills and relationships could improve if we text less.

Instead of texting a friend to see how they are, you can call them and possibly meet up with them in person. If you’re with friends, you can put your phone away and have a face-to-face conversation.

With the rise of texting and cell phone use, Turkle notes that we are “connected, but alone.” Our technology cannot develop a real relationship – it is not human, nor does it understand the human experience. It will take a real person – and real conversation – to do that.