I quit texting for a week and it was harder than I expected

Alyssa Pagano: Over the weekend I sent about 128 text messages and I received 153. We use texting so much to just make a plan, ask someone a quick question. And in some ways, it feels like it actually takes longer, and it's a step backwards in communication. You know, I'm standing there in my kitchen typing and then waiting for the response when I could have just made a quick phone call and figured it all out in, like, one conversation.

Another issue I have with texting is I feel like it kind of lends itself to miscommunication. When you're texting with someone, they can't always hear your tone of voice. Or if you're doing it quickly, you might not use punctuation correctly and the meaning can be misconstrued.

So I decided I'm gonna try quitting texting for an entire week. I'm also not gonna use Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, WhatsApp, any sort of messaging system. And I'm gonna use Slack on my computer because I need it for work, but I'm not gonna use it on my phone. So anytime someone texts me, I'll just call them if I need to respond. So the goal is to eliminate these quick back-and-forth conversations that happen through messaging platforms and to replace those with real conversations, which doesn't even sound like it should be that hard, but I've already received one text message while doing this interview.

So this is my third day without texting, and I think that I've talked to about six of my friends on the phone.

Are you at work?

Your voicemail box is full.

Can I call you later?

Um.

Okay, bye.

I can text again! It's been a whole week, and it was actually really difficult and pretty inconvenient. I ended up spending a lot of time on the phone, which was nice in some ways, but also kind of annoying.

There's just this expectation that's hard to get rid of. When someone sends you a text, they expect you to respond within a certain amount of time, and I just couldn't do that. So I was keeping a list on my phone of people who texted me so, at the end of the day, I would call them back.

Remind me to call Adam at 7 p.m.

Phone: Okay, I'll remind you.

Pagano: And then, you know, that meant that some portion of my evening was me making a bunch of phone calls just to respond to people's text messages.

Phone: Call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system.

Pagano: Hey Eliza, it's Alyssa. I'm just calling to respond to your text message. Anyway, I'm excited to spend the weekend with you too. One person, I had never spoken to on the phone in my life. We've never had a phone conversation, so it's like a new thing.

Person on phone: That's kind of scary.

Pagano: Yeah, yeah.

Some of my friends responded differently than others. Like, the friends that I see all the time and communicate with all the time were just sort of annoyed by it, because it made their lives more inconvenient, and they had to wait longer for me to respond to a question. But then friends that I don't see as much or I don't talk to as much were touched by it. They really liked it. I ended up catching up a little bit with some people who maybe were just asking me a question, but I actually got to have a little conversation with them.

I think texting can be more convenient for certain things, but calling someone is nice sometimes. And sometimes it makes plans happen faster. So this week without texting just makes me wanna be more thoughtful about when I use texts and when I use the phone. I think texting works better for some things and the phone works better for other things. But I just don't want texting to be the default.

Phone: Two, zero, is not available. The mailbox is full and cannot accept any messages at this time, goodbye.

Pagano: Goodbye.

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