As the cellular phones continue to become smarter, the act of texting becomes tremendously simple and therefore escalates in recognition. People find it to be a very handy tool while communicating with friends, family and their partners or their better halves. The conversations that we are too busy to carry out with our nearest and dearest on the phone, we carry out through text messages. We keep putting off telephone conversations because they require our complete and utter attention, but with texting we could do several things at the same time. Like in my case, I stay in-touch with my friends through texts and call them once a week at best. Some would say that texting has given us an opportunity to communicate that is convenient and has, therefore, increased our interaction with the people around us. The reality however is quite the opposite. (According to the statistics recorded in 2010, around 75 billion text messages are sent per month nationwide. This means that on average, each sends about 2,272 messages but only makes about 203 calls per month) . Ever since texting has become so comfortable and simple, we often tend to avoid conversing over the phone or even face-to-face. Probably because we have become so adapted to having things work out so effortlessly that we hesitate to make any exertion the moment things seem to become complex. Sadly, texting is also being used as means for carrying out uneasy and perturbed conversations that are putting quite a toll on our romantic relationships.
The results of a study were published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy. The study surveyed 276 men and women who were in a relationship and were between the ages of 18 to 25. 38% of these participants were in a serious relationship, 46% engaged while 16% of them were married. The results of the said study presented the following conclusions; Men who texted with their partners more often found less satisfaction in their relationship; women who texted more, on the other hand, reported better quality relationships. Couples who were said to send affectionate messages over texts found greater fulfillment in their relationship, but according to them, the thrill in sending a passionate message was greater than in receiving one. Serious conversations over texts messages however were a cause for inferior value relationships.) . So, it is safe to say that too much texting with one’s partner is hardly healthy for a relationship. When talking about family relationships, the situation isn’t much different. Where on one hand, texting and social networking could improve relationships with the extended family; it could exhibit adverse effects on relationships with the immediate family. The parents tend to ignore the children because they are communing on the phone with someone else, and the mealtimes also are not family times anymore. They are being colluded by the interference from technology. And since the children grow up in the constant environment of being ignored and not connecting with their family members, they learn to treat their parents the same way. In face-to-face conversations, we give and receive an immediate response, and there is no room for planning ahead, so our conversations are more truthful and candid. So in addition to everything else, texting also robs our conversations of the honesty factor.
Here’s yet another problem with maintaining relationships over technology. We often hear people say that there is a pronounced difference between having a relationship with someone, or with the idea of that someone. It often happens that even after we leave our friends, we stay in touch through messaging and social networking, but we ultimately start to lose the sense of who those people are. We recall the past version of our friends and imagine them develop into what our subconscious wants them to be. The result; we know little about the people we claim to be our childhood buddies. (According to recent studies, only 7% of the communication that we participate in is spoken or the written word. The remaining 93% comprises of our expressions and our body language. This is what we refer to as non-verbal communication.) . The non-verbal communication comprises of our body movements, gestures and our facial expressions. When carrying out conversations with a person, we listen to the words that he/she speaks and also analyze from the tone of voice and expressions, his/her present state of mind. We can judge sarcasm from the tone of someone’s voice. Therefore, written communications over text messages lack the personal touch. For example; it is easier to comfort someone by putting a hand on their hand, hugging the person to let him/her know that he has you to count on. Empty words can hardly achieve the purpose.
Whether or not we realize it, our relationships with the people surrounding us are vital to our happiness, so it is of utmost importance that we take every step possible to secure them. There are several initiatives that we could take in order to do that. First and foremost, we should avoid the use of cell phones during family interactions, and shouldn’t under any condition use cell phone in our bedrooms. The conversations that are important to us should be free of any distraction including the availability of a cell phone nearby. Doing so encourages greater intimacy as we are completely focused on the conversation at hand. Also, we should spare the time and the effort to carry out serious conversations face-to-face so that we could better judge the opposite person’s state of mind and his/her reactions. This way, we are more likely to get to the solution of the problem and have a greater possibility of maintaining our relationship. It is also imperative that we make efforts to celebrate a few weekends with family and friends and without any access to technology so that our bond with them could grow stronger over time.
Marinating relationships requires effort and a lot of patience; this is a truth that most of us find easy to ignore and so, we suffer from the ramifications. In order to carry out conversations with our spouses, parents or with our children, we should save time to spend with them. Also, in order to stay in touch with our friends, we should arrange meetings and gathering more often. When we do get the opportunity to meet them, we should focus on catching up rather than indulging in texts with someone else. Also, in order to maintain sound relationships, we should avoid over-expressing our feelings through text messages. Here’s a story of a relationship that went south because of too much texting. (A 40-year-old single mother Sanya Hudson-Payne ended a relationship because her partner kept telling her things on the text that she wanted to hear from him in person. Payne wanted to hear her partner say ‘I love you’ to her, but he kept texting the three words, even after Payne asked him that she liked to discuss serious matters face-to-face. He even exercised the habit to apologize through texts and in the end, when he wanted to discuss marriage with his girlfriend; he did that on text too. And so the relationship came to a much-perceived end.) It is also important to understand the extent to which one should share in a relationship through texts. If your partner isn’t very expressive, you should also limit your conversations with him/her.
Sherry Turkle, a New York Times journalist, explains her experience with people at college and complains how electronics are driving our lives. Not very long ago, Turkle says, people walked with their heads held high in Cape Cod. Now, they carry out conversations facing their palm devices, even when they are friends, acquaintances or family. It is very important for us to wake up and realize that we are losing something far more precious to a habit that could hardly yield favorable results. The relationships and people who help us get through life deserve a little more of our attention and consideration, because every time a hardship befalls us, they step forward to stand by our sides. And our supposed friends cannot as much as lend a hand or say few words of comfort. Isn’t it better than that we keep few friends in our lives, but the ones that we keep are true to us? An average person is hardly capable of carrying out more than 150 relationships . Spreading our contacts out wide could help us acquire many people who are familiar with us, but we might fail to get someone to stand by our sides when it actually matters.
Faerman, Z. (2013, September 05). How texting can ruin a relationship. Retrieved from She knows: http://www.sheknows.com/love-and-sex/articles/1007145/how-texting-can-ruin-a-relationship
Heussner, K. M. (2010, March 13). Is Technology Taking Its Toll on Our Relationships? Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2010/03/is-technology-taking-its-toll-on-our-relationships/
Meyers, M. (2010, December 3). Negative Effects of Text Messaging. Retrieved from Fixing the World: http://fixingtheworld.wikispaces.com/Effects+of+Text+Messaging#2
Schwiegershausen, E. (2013, October 31). Study: Too Much Texting Could Ruin Your Relationship. Retrieved from The Cut: http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/10/study-texting-could-ruin-your-relationship.html
Tardanico, S. (2012, April 30). Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/susantardanico/2012/04/30/is-social-media-sabotaging-real-communication/
Turkle, S. (2012, April 21). The Flight From Conversation. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0#h