Has Texting Replaced Conversation?

I’d really love to get input from college students on this one:

Last week I was in a cell phone store looking at options, since my current service contract expires in a week or two. I got into a conversation with the salesman — a senior in college — about texting. I do use text messages on a regular basis, but am not considered a heavy user by any means. I probably send 200-400 messages each month.

The salesman mentioned off-handedly that last month he sent 10,000 text messages.

10,000! Assuming a person is awake roughly 16 hours each day, this equals around 20 texts an hour. One every 3 minutes.

When I mentioned this to a friend, he told me a story of a student who recently sent 20,000 texts over the course of a single month.

At the risk of sounding like an old man, what’s going on here? Has texting replaced ordinary face-to-face conversation for many students? I know some people are insanely fast with the texts, but it’s still hard for me to imagine sustaining any real discussions with people if I’m pausing every 1-3 minutes to send a text. (Not to mention the time I’m on Facebook, Twitter, email, and surfing the web aimlessly).

I’m really not anti-texting — like I said, I use them relatively frequently and they’re a convenient way to send information when a phone call or face-to-face conversation just isn’t possible. Texting isn’t evil in itself.

However, I do wonder if the high volume of texting has replaced meaningful conversations for many students. If so, I would be concerned for a couple of reasons.

First, spiritual growth and discipleship require time and intentional relationships. It’s hard to imagine Jesus effectively training His disciples to walk with God via text messaging (“ILU discs! FRT! Pray hard!”) It’s tough to imagine the Sermon on the Mount with multiple interruptions — “Hold on, I need to get this.” Discipleship is a slow process that requires real conversations and physical presence.

Second (and this relates to the first issue closely), profound thoughts are not expressed in just a few characters. There are funny texts, informative texts, and even “I love you” texts. But I’ve never heard anybody say, “That text really got me thinking about my life today.” I realize that texts aren’t made for the purpose of deep thought — I just wonder if the proliferation of texting has crowded out other forms of communication. If so, then there simply isn’t time and energy leftover for real discussion — as the phone salesman said to me, “Texting is pretty much how I talk to people.”

So here’s my question for you guys: Do you find that texting is your primary means of communication with others? If so, do you think that affects your ability to sustain deeper conversations? Why or why not?

As a bonus question of sorts, do you think too much texting contributes to spiritual and relational shallowness?

[Image via http://www.beantownbloggery.com/2010/09/no-more-texting-while-driving-starts.html]

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Answering Your Dating Questions (Part 3)

Today’s question is:

How do you feel about asking a girl out through a text message or a Facebook post?

Um…the Bible doesn’t talk about this. ┬áBut I’ll give you my personal thoughts. I am a big fan of asking her face to face, for a few reasons.

First, if you text or post on her wall you are likely to communicate fear. Be bold, my friend. Man up. Take heart. Start off on the right foot and approach her face to face, with the confidence you wish to demonstrate.

Second, electronic messages are prone to miscommunication. It’s harder for her to tell if you’re asking for a date, or just to hang out with friends. It’s harder for you to tell if she doesn’t want to go out with you, or if she really has an appointment with her cat’s pedicurist. In person you can clear up the confusion.

Third, you probably don’t want to start your relationship that way. For a couple of reasons. When you tell your kids the story of your first date, do you really want it filled with words like “lol” and “t@yl”? I think not. Also, you don’t want to be that couple who plans parenting strategies through FB wall posts while you’re sitting in the same room.

Now, that having been said, there might be some extenuating circumstances that require you to ask her out via text or Facebook:

-Is she a secret government agent working under cover? If so, talking to her face to face during the day could endanger the lives of thousands of innocents. Plus, she’s probably tough to find anyway. Texting is your best bet.

-Is she trapped inside a computer video game like Kevin Flynn in Tron? In that case, there’s really no other way to communicate. Of course, you’ll have a hard time setting a date anyway unless you climb in and join her in there.

-Is she at least 50% cyborg? Are you? I have little doubt that in this situation electronic communication is more efficient. She should be able to read your meaning clearly in binary format, actually.

Questions for you: Are there other extenuating circumstances that might make it okay to ask a girl out via text message or Facebook? Do you have any other thoughts on this? Please let me know!

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