Pet Peeve #16: Text Conversations

I got my first cell phone when I was studying abroad in Japan. At the time, if you called someone, you got billed by the number of minutes you used, but they got a free call.

So if you ever needed to tell someone something really quick, like, “Meet me in 10 minutes at Starbucks,” you could either call the person and get charged a lot for all the smalltalk required to convey a simple message, or you could text them for 5 cents. No big deal.

I know that sounds like such a normal thing now, but back then, no one texted over here in America. Few people even had cell phones. So although the idea of texting someone seemed completely foreign to me, I quickly realized the sheer convenience of it. You could cut through all the crap and get to the point, every time.

So that’s what texting is to me–a way to convey a quick, time-sensitive message to someone else.

Oh, but the horror of what it’s actually become. Some people want to have entire conversations over text. Why in the world would you want that? No matter how good predictive text software is, texting will always be slower than typing on a keyboard. You’re bent over that tiny screen, your big fingers trying to tip-tap a comprehensible phrase. It’s tortuous!

I’m just going to put this out there: If you want to have a conversation with me, e-mail me. It’s less immediate than texts, and I can reply via a real keyboard. Or e-mail me and ask if we can hang out to chat in person. Or, if all else fails, call me.

But don’t try to have a text conversation with me. Leave the texts for things I need to know right now. That may include something really funny that just happened to you that you absolutely had to share with someone, but after I give you the obligatory, “LOL,” that’s it. Walk away. It’s better that way.

10 Responses to “Pet Peeve #16: Text Conversations”

  1. Eric says:

    Couldn’t agree more…although I prefer the phone.

  2. T-Mac says:

    I don’t mind a little back and forth/banter, but I’d say 4 texts (2 per person) is probably my limit. After that, it feels like a conversation. What’s your limit?

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Trev, that’s a good question–what’s the tipping point between brief banter and a conversation? I’d agree with about 2 texts per person.

  3. Bryce says:

    Your LOLs are obligatory??? That hurts, but I appreciate your honesty 🙁

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Nah, I mean it when I LOL (I reserve that for truly laughing out loud). A “ha ha” means that you made me smile, and “ha ha ha” is a hearty chuckle.

  4. Ariel says:

    gchat. it’s the perfect compromise. If your text message rolls over into two texts, that’s a big clue you should have just called and left a voice message. On the other hand, super short e-mails with response times of less than 5 minutes are clunky and hard to end (who wants to be the one who didn’t respond – how rude!)

    On a related note, I get physically ill sometimes when I get text messages from perfectly normal people that say things like ‘C U L8R’ – I mean really – a) that message has no meaningful content since it is almost always sent at the end of confirming plans when it is known by all parties what will happen later.
    and b) it is insulting to my intelligence that you think I can’t read whole words.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Gchat is okay, but if you have that sense of immediacy (gchat requires an immediate reply), why not just call real quick and have the back and forth over the phone?

      I hear you about that type of text language. I once exchanged numbers with a cute woman at a happy hour, and I got a text from her later that night that was essentially all text speak. That was as far as that relationship went!

  5. Red says:

    I love this discussion about cultural appliation of various mediums. Because with the existance of smartphones; Text Message, Email, and GChat (AIM, Yahoo chat, Communicator etc) all functionally do the same thing. But I agree that they all have different applications. Here’s my breakdown.
    -AIM, Communicator, GChat, is immediate but usually brief. For very light conversation, or to allow multitasking through lits discussion.
    -Email is for anything you need an accessable record of what you sent, for practical electronic files (word docs, excel, etc), and making long term plans (more than 24 hrs away).
    -I have no problem with long text conversations, because it eliminates the dead space in a conversation, and allows you to think more completely about your response. But it should be a rather quick response (the presumption is that you always receive the text immediately). Also used for plans less than 24 hrs away, and sending amusing electronic files (pictures).

    I believe phone calls are still the most personal medium for electronic communication.

    Question: Anyone with iPhone 4, for what function do you use face time (as I figure it is more personal than a phone conversation)?

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