Essays

The end of the digital relationship

In 2017, I plan to stop Texting.

Now, this doesn’t mean I will not send and receive text messages. I’ll keep texting (note, lowercase first letter), but I won’t be a Texter anymore. I know this seems like a fine, trite nuance, but I’m going to break it down.

To do so, I need you to take the Way Way Back Machine with me, all the way to 2001. That was when I got my first cellphone… and it was a cellphone, not a smartphone. You needed to tap the same key multiple times to get to different letters. And data, sweet, precious data, was expensive.

That is to imply that talk was cheap, but text wasn’t.

The majority of my messages consisted of the following:

  • Be there soon
  • Catching the train
  • See you in a few minutes
  • Stuck in class

Scintillating material, right? No, not at all, it was boring and mundane, and just brief messages that allowed me to stay lightly in touch with someone, but the bulk of my relationships were still happening IRL, as the kids say (in real life).

I miss it.

I miss having real conversations with real people. Emojis are great, but there is no emoji that conveys as much as your friend’s hand on your shoulder when you’ve had a bad day, or your partner’s hand on your back to support you through a difficult time. There is a crying-while-laughing emoji that everybody thinks is all the rage, but it is not the same as hearing the helpless snort another human being may let out when they have been truly caught unawares by a moment of shared hilarity.

In the last few months, I have been focusing on human connections and it has been nothing short of magic. When my work day ends, I get off of my computer, and I head out the door for drinks, for a show, for an opening, for a walk through the neighborhood, and I have come to enjoy true and open connection.

Therefore, for 2017, I have a new rule: if you live less than 25 miles from me, I’m not going to spend my time Texting you. We can exchange little texts and funny photos, but the bulk of our lives that we live together will actually be lived together.

And, if you don’t have the time, I understand. We have different priorities. Maybe another time, another year, or once every couple of years, we can meet up for that coffee, hang out with the kids, or catch a random comedy show or play together. I won’t take it personally. I’ll miss you, but you’re living your real life with the people you need to, and I’ll be living mine with my people, too.

 

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