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When did texting become talking?

Texting at the table

I remember my first real crush in school. I was 13 years old and couldn’t resist his boy-band curtains and pimply chin. The usual school code was enforced; so after my friend told his friend who then told him, the news was out – and imagine my sheer joy when in a French class one day a little screwed up paper ball landed on my table with ‘What’s your phone number?’ scrawled inside (ohhh he was so romantic).

At home later that evening, my father walked into my room with the home telephone, ‘there’s a boy on the phone for you’ he said, with the hatred I believe only the father of a daughter could really muster. It was him! We spoke for two and a half hours and one week of blissful phone calls later, he was my boyfriend. We went to the park, phoned each other every day and held hands for a wonderful three months before he changed his hair and I fell out of love with him (obviously).

Now I know I was thirteen and things certainly change as that innocence is beaten out of you by society, but the basic principles are simple. When did people stop actually making an effort and talking to each other?

Fast forward six years: I’m in a club and have met a nice, good-looking guy. Were chatting for around five minutes, and when he pulls his mobile phone out of his pocket I couldn’t help but feel that little twinge of excitement, when he leans over and shouts in my ear ‘what’s your full name and I’ll add you on Facebook’. We never spoke again; he just likes some of my pictures from time to time.

Because that’s how it works these days isn’t it? No one actually wants to talk to each other anymore, and a conversation on Facebook Messenger or a day of small-talk texts now count as the conversation equivalent of a first date.

If I retell that story from years ago in today’s society it would go as follows:

‘A guy added me on Facebook, we had a few mutual friends and I’d seen him around so I accepted. After looking through his profile pictures I decided he was hot and after he liked a few of my statuses and poked me I knew he felt the same. We spent a week or two liking each others pictures then one night I had too much to drink, found his mobile number on his page and sent him an incoherent drunken message, something like ‘ij liker youo lolx’. This led to arranging to be at the same club the following weekend, which in turn led to a beautiful relationship of awkward texts and booty calls which ended badly when he was tagged in a photo with his tongue down the throat of a girl I hated’.

With dates consisting of getting a kebab together after a night out and relationships starting with the drunken fumbles that follow the kebab, no one seems to actually try to get to know each other anymore. Yes we text and yes this is interaction, but when you haven’t spoken to somebody for years or are getting to know somebody for the first time, since when can you really connect and know if there’s something if you’re confined to a text message? And it’s not just texting – now you don’t look at your phone and see just missed calls and texts but ‘so-and-so liked your profile picture’ ‘so-and-so favourite your tweet’.

These outlets just allow people to hide behind a shield, how many people would genuinely have the confidence to go up to somebody they find attractive, ask for their number, and call them to ask them on a date the next day? I certainly wouldn’t and it definitely hasn’t happened to me before. And with texting and tweeting allowing people to have time to think up witty repartee, what happens when they actually have to have a face to face, sober, conversation? Someone you thought had great banter turns out to be a total bore, that’s what!

Were all guilty of it, I myself have a love-hate relationship with technology, I’ll moan about it one second, then post a picture of my dinner because I believe everyone will care, and feel ever so satisfied when a guy I may be interested in ‘likes’ or ‘favourites’ it, but why? They did nothing but press a button and somehow this impresses us. How is it that by carrying out these tiny things we feel we’ve done enough to show attention?

This all sounds very pessimistic and technology does offer amazing opportunities and a way of sharing things with loved ones in a way we never could before. In terms of long distance relationships with partners and friends it’s actually a godsend, and I must say I’m guilty for being glued to my phone all day long. But the point I’m trying to make (in a very roundabout way) is that it would be nice if just now and again; we all gave our thumbs a rest and let our mouths do the talking.

3 Comments
  • siobhan

    Brilliant article you hit the proverbial nail on the head here

  • Rebecca Elvidge

    I could not agree with this more if I tried. Nice job!

  • Russell

    I might just quote you in my English Language exam on Monday! Great article!

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