For those of you not sucked into the culture of texting, it may be a surprise to learn there is a whole code of things that you should say, how you should say it and when to use smileys.
It takes a considerable amount of time to compose a concise, witty message that balances charm, interest and nonchalance.
Once in a while it can be nice to take part in such banter. To feel the phone vibrate in your pocket and know that someone is thinking about you. To take out the phone on the bus and smile as you read the message gives everyone the impression that you're popular, important and in high demand. Okay. It's nice - once in a while.
Texting is good for asking fast things, setting up hang outs, telling someone something short and sweet. But it's definitely not a substitute for a real friendship and should not be used as a comfortably distanced way to introduce yourself to someone else.
It seems rather odd when two people don't acknowledge each other when they're practically sitting next to each other and then, over text, suddenly communicate as if they're long lost cousins, torn apart by cruel destiny.
It's confusing on multiple levels. For one thing, you never quite know where you stand with each other. A lot is left up to interpretation without an actual face or body to refer to. Questions as to what they mean by that winky smiley, or why they made the effort to add a period, contribute to this complex web of possibilities and emotional turmoil.
When you encounter the person in "real life" there may be some awkward acknowledgement. And you wonder, "Was that really the person I was pouring my soul out to?"
Another problem is that texting conversations are so time-consuming and interruptive. I'm saying "conversations" because I'm referring to the exchange that lasts hours and hours. One person says one thing, three minutes later the other replies, back and forth, back and forth. It's exhausting. If someone takes 10 minutes to respond instead of five, a gradual panic builds, tension mounts.
And questions as to "What did I say wrong?" start accumulating.
Meanwhile, the textbook lies on your desk - you've been on the same page for an hour.
Maybe it's just me. But I don't want to get to know a person through my phone. I want to get to know them by sitting down with them and talking with them face-to-face. Frankly, if we aren't comfortable doing that, then that person has no business interrupting my classes, studying or time with my family.
Texting is nice - once in a while.
Anna Toth is a J.N. Burnett graduate and currently attends UBC.