The average person sends and receives over 128 messages per day and less than five calls a day. This data is from 2013, so I assume it has changed drastically since then. I had no idea how many messages I normally send so I counted.
On a random Wednesday, I had sent 154 messages and made two calls.
For my English class, I was told to do an experiment or an investigation, finals were coming up and I found myself texting my friends with a notebook opened. I called it “studying.” I could kill two birds with one stone, get more studying done and have something to write about for my final essay.
I woke up that first morning, eager to see what was to be found in the blue speech bubble on my phone. I had a message. Ok, maybe this was not going to be so difficult, only one from an acquaintance asking if I think I did well on the test we had yesterday, I couldn’t respond but I definitely wasn’t close enough to text her. I bit my lip and sent nothing back.
Just after getting to my first class I received another text, someone in my sorority asking me to save her a seat. There were already people sitting on either side of me. I could hear my heart beat harder than usual. I had to text her warning her that I didn’t have a seat for her. I was able to resist but when she showed up to class she gave me a look as if I had betrayed her and shared one of her darkest secrets with the entire class.
I walked home and got into bed after an hour of my biology teacher talking about her favorite type of bee for way too long. Scrolling through YouTube, I found a dance video that I desperately wanted to send to my best friend Katherine. I also really wanted to send my parents a picture of a baby pug; I wanted to text my home friends that someone spilled their iced coffee all over the classroom floor just like Grace did during her 8th grade presentation. I was able to do without all of it, but it felt like none of it had any importance anymore. The video, the picture, the funny moment all had no purpose if no one else got a laugh or a smile out of it.
By noon, I slipped up and had responded to the group text that was furiously awakening my phone.
The next day people began texting me asking if I was mad at them, I called my friends and explained that I was just “really busy” with all the work I had. I thought that telling them I was doing the experiment would ruin the purpose of it. I began to feel irrelevant and alone. When something good or bad happened, it went straight into my phone. The world and everyone in it felt so separate from me; I was isolated. Conversations in group-chats went on perfectly fine without any of my input. I couldn’t text anyone to get lunch or do work with me, and I was too lazy to call, so I did it alone.
It was the 4th day when I realized that I had made this much harder than it had to be. On my way to class, I called my brother to make brunch plans, I called Hannah to ask what time she was going to the library and if we could work together.
Before these phone calls always felt really uncomfortable for me, but with a little practice, I actually enjoyed them. A conversation flowed way more smoothly than over text.
I’m not exactly sure where to go from here. I definitely don’t see myself giving up texting ever again, but I do see myself making more phone calls. It’s personable, sometimes weird but also comforting knowing that someone wants to talk to you for however long. Real conversation, that’s the difference between texting and calling. Why are we so scared of real conversation? I guess it’s because we have the option to avoid it so the more we do the scarier the phone calls get.
After I had finished the experiment, on a freezing cold morning on my way to class I found myself calling a friend asking how her test went, we then went on to talk for the entire 15-minute walk about a bucket list we plan to make for this summer. It was that phone call that put me in a good enough mood that I didn’t mind listening to my teacher talk about insects for two hours.