Exchanging numbers with a new guy recently, he told me, “You can call me or email me, but don’t text me.” He went on to explain that he has his phone set up not to accept texts. He didn’t want me to think he was ignoring me if he didn’t respond to a text, so he gave me a heads up that he legitimately doesn’t get them.
Strange, I thought, but also commendable. It can be so annoying to be online all the time, right? My job — in journalism — requires me to sit in front of a computer and jump on emails from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I average 495 per day. Additionally, we communicate through MSN messenger, which is connected to my personal email, so each time something is delivered to my hotmail account, I know immediately. When I see my sister or BFF or the boy I like emails, I can’t help but check it soonest. My job only reinforces the need to know right away.
Smartphones increase the temptation. My old BlackBerry had a red light that would flash when an email was delivered. “Ooh,” I’d think, “what is it?” Only to open my surprise and see that Groupon is offering a special at a meh coffee shop in South Seattle or that my library books are due Thursday. My new iPhone doesn’t have the flashing light, which restores my sanity, but it’s equally tempting. It’s right there in my pocket when I’m walking home or on the coffee table when I’m reading a book. I could just take a quick look. If there’s no new email, maybe people are doing something on Facebook or maybe my friend from college just played a word on “Words With Friends,” and it’s my turn.
I’ve been better about not playing with my phone while walking. I love my walks. They’re my time not to be online. Otherwise, I’ve really not been good at breaking this addiction. But recognizing it is the first step, right?
No-text guy has inspired me to use the phone feature a little more often. I call him without scheduling it first – just like in the olden days! I even find myself getting annoyed when I receive a string of texts. (No problem if it’s something quick or I’m at work, please text. Otherwise call or email.)
Full confession: I checked my phone twice in the time it took to write this.