“If the number gets higher than five, I just freeze. I don’t know what to do.” This is commonly heard by my friends as I look at my phone and watch the number of unread messages get higher.
Truth be told, if I was in a competition for the ‘World’s Worst Texter’, I would probably win. I either forget to read, forget to reply to, or can’t bring myself to reply to about 95% of the texts or messages I receive. The 5% I do get back to usually are coming from a family member, something that involves my professional life, or a close friend (and admittedly, when I have my eye on a certain someone, he makes this list as well).
Even when I get back to that 5%, it can take ages to do so. All of my close friends could testify on my delayed replies. I have been known to let messages sit in my inbox for days upon days before answering. Like I wrote when I quoted myself in the first two lines, if the messages start to build up, it makes it even harder for me to respond to people.
I also equally suck at messaging people I love to find out how they’re doing. I realized last week that I had gone a month without talking to one of my best guy friends…and it still took me several days to text him. It’s just not something I’m good at unless it’s urgent or professionally related.
You know what’s funny though?
Although the people who don’t know me as well may be offended if I don’t get back to them in a timely manner, those who are close to me in my life may start to worry about my well-being, but they aren’t offended and they don’t feel unloved when I don’t get back to them right away.
Technology has done some amazing things. It has drastically changed how society works, and most of that is for the better. However, it has boiled human connection down to how frequently someone texts you, how quickly they respond to your texts, and what they post about you on social media.
We were created for so much more.
I think the reason I have a hard time texting someone is that I crave personal conversation-even a phone call is better than a text. The reason the people I love aren’t offended when I don’t respond back right away is because they know that it is not due to lack of effort or love. They know that when I can see them in person or even call them on the phone or hand write a note, I’m going to listen to them, to love on them, and to grow our relationship.
We simplify human relationships too much. They can’t just be grown through texting-they need intentional attention, willingness to put in work. When we try to replace actual human contact through a text message, we lose an important part of how we’re created-God created us for human contact. Not only that, but we attach much more emotion to technology than it deserves; it is easy to get angry when somebody doesn’t text you back right away, completely ignoring how silly it is to dictate their time or technology.
So put down your phone. Go get coffee with those people you love or those you want to get to know more. Step into the awkward space where you have to unlearn your technological habits and relearn human contact. It is so worth it, and it is face-to-face that relationships flourish and grow.
As for me, there’s a good chance that I won’t answer your texts.
I will, however, try and grab a cup of coffee with you.