As a frequent texter myself, I am in no way the person to advise you to drop your phone and stop texting. In today's world, texting is not only just a fact of life, but it is also a socially acceptable form of communication that you probably use with everyone from your best friend to your grandma.
More and more teens use text messaging as their main means of getting in touch, setting up plans, and also having important conversations.
But is texting really the best way to communicate with someone about serious issues? Often it isn't. But it can feel hard to pick up the phone, let alone set up a time to talk face to face when texting is the main way you communicate with people.
For example, one teen describes her on and off relationship with another girl. She writes to the forum:
"So there's this girl I've dated quite a few times. She and her boyfriend just broke up and she usually comes to me when she gets dumped so I'm her backup. I know that's bad and I've fought with her about that before. We're in high school, both girls, good 'friends', even though we fight, like, everyday. We text A LOT. I feel weird going a day without texting her. We recently fought because she was pissed I asked her what happened with her boyfriend when they broke up and now she won't text me back."
This is already some pretty serious stuff to be dealing with in a series of tapped out correspondences. Then to get radio silence from the person you are so emotionally involved with is just an awful feeling.
In many ways it would probably be better to use texting to set up a time to talk rather than to have it be the way you actually sort through issues. Most of us know this logically. But logic doesn't always rule the day!
So how can we strike a balance between practical texting and the kind that leaves you staring blankly at your phone utterly baffled or deeply upset?
Don’t guess. If a message is cryptic or vague, wait until you’re face to face with the sender to ask what the they were talking about.
Don’t over-abbreviate. You want to be brief in a text message, but stick with terms and symbols that most people know and use. If you try to make up new texting terms on the spot, you’ll end up sending gibberish.
Don’t text angry. Sure, you can express general frustration with a ‘Grrrr…” or a “Humph” or an “Ugh,” but pick up the phone to hash things out.
Don’t be rude or break bad new. Breaking up via text may be efficient, but it isn’t classy.
I would also add, be very careful if you are considering sending sexual texts or sexting. Not only can these be embarrassing for you at some point, but they can be weird for the recipient to get, can end up in places and with people you never imagined, and can get you in real trouble with your parents and even the law.
Ultimately texting is fast and efficient. It helps avoid unnecessarily long conversations and can pass on information that doesn't require in depth chatting (say like letting someone know you are running late, or asking what chapter you need to read for English). But when it comes to weightier issues, texting can miss the mark.