I Totally Broke Texting Etiquette Because LOL

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Like most millennials, my preferred method of communication is texting. I am not a fan of talking on the phone, whether because of my awkwardness or fear of confrontation (or a little of both). I like having time to craft a suitable response and have come to associate phone calls with serious or emergency situations. When my mom texts me to “call her ASAP,” I instantly assume there’s been some kind of horrible accident. (Usually, she just wants to know if I need anything at Target...and usually, I do.)

One of my biggest pet peeves is an unanswered text. I’m pretty much always on my phone, usually scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, and reply quickly when someone texts me — and I expect the same courtesy. That means texting can take up a big portion of my day.

But I recently decided that it was time for a change. I’ve taken brief social-media hiatuses in the past, deactivating Facebook when I was studying for finals in college or removing Twitter from my phone when I needed a breather. But I’ve never gone without texting — and it was time. Not having to answer messages? Unsubscribing from overpopulated group chats that literally make my phone crash? Back when we just called one another, it was so simple and straightforward, something texts often aren’t.

So I decided to quit texting for a week. If someone sent me a text, I’d pick up the phone and actually call them. Maybe my friends would think I was a weirdo. Maybe, this experiment would revolutionize my time and productivity. I was about to find out.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

I had made plans with a friend via text message the day before, but didn’t hear from her this morning to know whether or not she was on her way to the restaurant. I called her to get an update and learned that she was running an hour late. It felt kind of confrontational to make a phone call out of this, but it was a 30-second chat and wasn’t a big deal. Also, it was probably more time-efficient to sort things out in a brief call than trying to communicate via text message.

The Takeaway: Making a phone call wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

I called my mom to talk about Thanksgiving plans in the morning. (I would usually make a phone call for stuff like this, anyway, since it’s easier to hash out the details and brainstorm in an actual conversation than an extended texting marathon.)

I’ve also recently started seeing this guy who has mentioned that he hates texting — and has been a notoriously bad texter since we met. I didn’t text him today and I didn’t hear from him. Kind of a bummer, but I felt like calling would seem weird, so I didn't.

I wanted to text my roommates to offer them some wine I got for free at work, but since we’re never home at the same time I left a note on the fridge. That’s the original text message, right?

The Takeaway: My roommates got my note, evidenced by an empty bottle of wine and a scribble back on the note that said “Thank you! :).” Perhaps it was even better that I didn't text — the wine ended up being a pleasant surprise when they got home.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

I got a text from the aforementioned guy who hates texting. He was asking if I wanted to get pizza later, which I did, but I felt super-awkward following up his casual text with a phone call. I didn’t tell him I was doing this no-texting experiment, so he definitely wasn’t expecting my phone call. He seemed surprised, but (once again) it wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be.

The Takeaway: I think it’s too early in knowing one another to switch completely to calling. Maybe as we get to know each other more and spend time together, it wouldn’t be weird to have a phone conversation instead of a drawn-out texting session.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Called my mom to briefly say hello. We usually text throughout the day, so it was weird not hearing from her.

Then, one of my best friends texted me just to say hello, so I called her back and we had a really long — but really great — catch-up call, which also included a brainstorming session for taking a weekend trip together. It’s crazy how you can go months without seeing each other, but the conversation picks up like you’re still eating pizza in your crappy shared dorm room!

The Takeaway: Calling was a way more meaningful interaction than texting one another. I definitely want to make a point of staying in touch with far away friends via the occasional phone call, not just via tagging them on funny Facebook posts.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

I booked a train to visit a friend in Boston in a few weeks. There was a pricing error, so I reluctantly called customer service...and was on hold for over an hour. Even though there wasn’t a way to solve this via text message, it was incredibly frustrating and was my only phone call of the day.

I got texts from two different guys this evening — I’d gone for drinks with each of them earlier this month, but didn’t hit it off. There was no way I was following up their casual “what’s up” messages with a phone call. Even though they didn’t know I was doing this experiment, it was kind of nice to have a reason for not texting them back. I didn’t feel compelled to answer like I normally would.

The Takeaway: I know this no-texting experiment shouldn’t be an excuse for ignoring people...but I’m not complaining.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

I had a phone interview today — I’ve had a lot of these in the past and they don’t make me uncomfortable at all (Skype interviews are a completely different story). I think phone interviews are pretty casual and non-confrontational. I look at it as a chance to prove I’m just a normal person. And if I don’t end up getting a second interview or a job offer, it feels like less of a waste of time: A 20-minute phone conversation is a lot less of an ordeal than taking a half-day at work to trek uptown in 90-degree weather.

I ignored a few unimportant texts from a group chat with high school friends — not important or urgent enough to warrant a phone call, let alone two of the same phone call. Are three-way calls still a thing?

The Takeaway: My social life this week was pretty much what it usually is, though I probably would have engaged more in group texts. In real life, I still hung out with the people I wanted to, just by coordinating over the phone or in person.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Hungover from last night = canceled plans today, which I was pretty bummed about. Had a groggy phone conversation to bail on my friend (again, not ideal) and called my mom later after I took a nap and went to the gym.

Takeaway: I don’t think being able to text would have changed how this day went...my hangover was pretty much in charge. If I’d been texting, I would have sent over an, “I’m really so so sorry, we should definitely do something next weekend,” text to follow up the cancellation phone call, though.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

When my week of no texting came to an end, I felt enormously relieved. Even though I got over the anxiety of actually calling people to make plans or have a conversation, it was inconvenient. Resolving things via a text message with a simple “yes” or “no, thanks,” seems a lot more time efficient than making a phone call. But I did learn a few things in the process.

I didn't realize that what I love about texting is that it’s a great way to tell someone you’re thinking about them without being invasive or taking up a bunch of their time. My mother texts me almost daily just to say, “Hello,” “Hope you’re having a great day!” or, "I made your favorite brownies and ur not here haha." It was weird not to get those texts. (Since I told her about my no-text quest, she didn’t text me all week.)

This week was also a lesson in being up front with people — when I bailed on my plans, I couldn’t send a pathetic text...I had to own up to it and face my friend, voice to voice. In this sense, I came away feeling more assertive.

Going forward, I'll go back to using texting as my primary form of communication — it wouldn't make sense to ditch it for good. But now, I’m not scared to pick up the phone...or just ignore my texts if I want some alone time.
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