Over at the blog Dating Diva, Toni writes about a past relationship with a guy who loved to text her. And who chose not to use the phone. I have noticed that there seems to be a fair amount of angst around this particular phenomenon, some of which I feel sympathy with. However, I also wonder if the conclusions being drawn are sometimes entirely too broad sweeping.
Here are some of Toni's comments:
Looking back, I see that relationship as the embodiment of how technology is slowly killing romance. It's draining the courting out of courtship. And frankly, I'm ready to hit "delete" on the whole thing.
A flirtatious text here and there is fine, but a text of more than 100 characters? That's overkill. Call me old-fashioned, but I wonder what's so "advanced" about these so- called advancements in communication. The same gadgets that allow you to be in touch all the time sometimes mask the fact that you never really touched at all.
My friends tell me to get over it (most via email or text - hmmmm) they say texting is a way of life. I say sure - I agree sometimes I'd rather not be bothered talking on the phone but a text or an email cannot replace the human voice or touch.
Now, first off, as a non-cell phone owner who hasn't texted in his life, I can relate to her questioning the value of such technology.
At the same time, as I wrote in my comment on her blog:
The phone was considered in almost exactly the same negative light as texting and e-mailing are back in the day. During the early days of phones, people frequently called it "the Devil's tool" and other unsavory names. And certainly, when it came to romance, it was considered a lazy substitute for a well written letter, song, or poem.
To me, it's about how someone engages a relationship that matters most. I'm guessing texter dude just wasn't that engaged. I've known plenty of people who've had similarly dis-engaged relationships that centered around phone calls.
On a few other blogs, I have seen people offer a somewhat different, but almost equally broad view of texters. Basically, these folks argue that anyone who uses texting as a the main form of communication when you're not together "really isn't that into you." A point which I think is total bs. Not because it's never true, but because people are privileging one form of technology - the phone - over another (the text box on a phone), thinking that someone calling you is somehow more loving, intimate, and demonstrating of interest.
As a frequent public transit user, I have witnessed thousands of phone conversations, many of them obviously to a partner or significant other. Flipping your phone out while on a bus or train is nothing special, and in fact, seems to be a favorite past time of people who desire to stave off boredom and who aren't interested in talking to the strangers sitting right next to them. I see the same thing happening at coffee shops, cafes, and all sorts of other places. And yet, because the phone has become naturalized in our psyches, some of us seem to think that using it often to call another is a sign of interest, romance, and even love.
The reality, though, is that it's can never just about phone use or texting. It's always about how someone engages a relationship as a whole that really matters.
Take that bus ride. Maybe the guy I'm sitting next to really loves his girlfriend, and he's calling her to check in and see how her day has gone. Then there's the guy sitting behind us who is doing the same exact thing - calling the girlfriend - but is doing so because there is 30 minutes left before his stop and he's tired of looking out the window. On the surface, they both would appear to some folks to be taking care of the relationship, but if you move below the surface, you'll see that only one is actually doing so.
Creating romance or demonstrating interest are not about surface appearances. In fact, I'd argue that because every person is unique, the ways one goes about creating romance and/or demonstrating interest will be at least someone different with each new partner. It's amazing to me how often people seem to forget this, while also at the same time demanding to be viewed themselves as unique individuals. Just goes to show how challenging it can be to see the world outside of your own head.