I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially too keen on the idea of text messaging. The tiny keys on my phone made the task difficult and the only real use I could see for it was that it allowed the teens I was teaching to contact me quickly in an emergency.
As time went on, I got better at the art. I could read and write the abbreviated messages and what had once been a burden became fun. Perhaps, too much fun. Texting, I discovered, was better than a phone call.
I finally had an outlet for all of those short, but stimulating thoughts that I had throughout the course of the day. In an instant, I could share a reflection with a single friend (or a group of friends) in a way that did not intrude upon their time (the way a vocal message might) or my privacy (as with Facebook). It was like having my friends right there with me all the time.
My anticipation of a response to these messages is limited. I send them to make people laugh (as in the case where I discovered that using Facebook and Google Maps does not guarantee that you’ll end up headed in the correct direction), to share encouragement (a verse or a quote), a prayer request, or a general update that does not merit a prolonged conversation. Friends who receive these messages may or may not respond… and I’m O.K. with that. It’s simply my way of connecting.
Since most of my friends aren’t as keen on texting as I am, I have had to make a few adjustments. To begin with, I always text in full sentences (though not always with proper capitalization and punctuation). This allows my less non-English savvy friends (primarily those who fall into my parents’ age-range) to read the message with ease.
Secondly, as with Twitter, I have had to learn to share my thoughts in a concise manner. One friend complained that each message I sent got automatically divided into multiple texts. He had to learn to “read backwards” to make any sense out of my comments and, at one point, spent nearly ten minutes trying to figure out what the message “nd!” meant. (It was the final two letters of “Have a great weekend!”) So I now try (though not always with success) to keep the messages limited.
Thirdly, I’ve taken time to clarify to my friends that “group texts” aren’t like posting to Facebook. While they may see a lot of the same phone numbers repeat themselves, I actually do hand select who gets each message. (I simply find it challenging to retype the same question six times on those tiny keys!)
Finally, I’ve had to acknowledge the importance of occasionally retyping the same question six times on those tiny keys. I do this simply to let my friends know that they are loved enough for me to take the time to do that… that in my heart, they aren’t part of a generic crowd, but a very special group of people with whom I am privileged to share my life.