One day last week while walking to class I just got fed up looking at the passerby’s eyes down, glued to their phones, completely immersed in this alternate reality we’ve created. So I decided to break away from it. I refused to text for a week.
I did this for several reasons, firstly, it’s distracting. While responding to messages, I get pulled out of the moment. It’s so easy for me to lose my relationship with the present. Secondly, I yearn to shift my conversations, if just for a week, to more meaningful topics. With texting being to simple, I find that many of my conversations match the shallowness of texting.
Often, I turn my phone off or put it on airplane so that I can’t be reached. However, I can still acknowledge that it alters my behavior and the nature of conversation. That’s not what I want. I don’t want relationships that are too easy. I don’t want relationships just a text away from crashing unto themselves. I want phone calls, Face Time & e-mail relationships. I want letters, postcards & carrier pigeon relationships, relationships that matter.
This weekend I was introduced to a friend of my friend’s. A stunning Togolese young women. She’s a well known Vlogger who speaks four languages, and is just generally pretty badass. So we exchanged information, she read some of my writing and sent me a super kind message that made my day. As opposed to shooting her a thank you text accompanied by some wack ass emoji I gave her a call. I felt pretty self conscious because it’s atypical behavior and felt a bit intrusive since I don’t know her that well. She was surprised but appreciative. We talked for less than five minutes, but it felt good, to connect with someone in a different way. And I liked it. We will be going for tea soon, I have to call her back to finalize the details.
Once I got over this imaginary self consciousness, I began to see a shift. People were receptive and while I working on my being present, they adapted and showed in many ways unexpected. We set aside specific times to speak, I received kind emails. Two friends, one friend from Toronto & one from the Bay is sending me a letter (which is one of the things that bring me the most satisfaction. I send physical mail often so others can have this rare experience.) I got things done faster, because the conversation was more concise.
I thought talking to people on the phone would be more time consuming, but I realized that having a 10 minute conversation is far less time consuming and distracting than maintaining a conversation via text all day. Text can be more convenient in but I will more be more present in my relationships. I am always busy, as many of the people in my life, but I know that when something is of importance, you figure it out.
It was a challenge but it reinforced my idea that when we only appear digitally, we lose something, out humanity falls between the spaces in our typed words. We forget what it’s like to hear a human voice on the other side. We forget what it’s like to send a card to send thanks, or the ecstatic nervousness experienced when we call a crush for the first. The counting of rings, trying to manage the rambling thoughts before they pick up. I am taking all of those things. I am reclaiming them.
My purge is over, and I will never text again. Certainly not? I just want to piece together my relationships in different ways, starting with this.