First, I want to speak to the time we’re currently in. In the time of this coronavirus pandemic, we are all social distancing and most people are having to stay home. But can we not pretend that we haven’t been social distancing for a while now? It arguably started with the invention of the text message. Rather than giving someone a call, we can send a text to show that we ‘care.’ Yes, texting was a great invention due to the fact that your parents could/can just text you and say “Be out front in 15 minutes,” when they’re coming to pick you up from the movies. Although, it has turned into something else in some respects.
Following the advent of the text message, you had your AOL instant messenger, a way to chat with multiple people at once (I didn’t use it much). Then, Myspace which started the social media revolution. And, of course now, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social networks and apps. All of this social media is a means of connecting socially, yes, but in many ways has distanced us. Rather than a phone call, or a postcard, or meeting face to face, it’s easier to keep up by seeing what people are doing by following them on the internet.
But to my point, the fact that we all love Instagram and other online spaces is great, but much of it creates anxiety. Why does it create anxiety? Well, I think one reason is when people just like your photo or look at your story and don’t engage with it, it means you don’t know what they think about it. So many times our minds will go “did anybody like it? Is it an ugly picture? Do they think I’m weird?”
So with that being said, text messages, even though they were kind of a form of social distancing at first, they became less of a social distance than talking with someone through a social media app. When you text, you’re usually engaging with one or a few people having a genuine, connective conversation. But, now that we have the text message like button, many texts conversations are becoming impersonal. If you don’t know or if you don’t have this feature, most smartphones have the option to click a received text and put a thumbs up, thumbs down, exclamation point, heart, HAHA or question mark.
Call me old school but if I’m texting with family and friends, I would rather talk with words rather than use a heart reaction in response to texts. To me, it’s lazy and shows a lack of caring and respect. Maybe I have an extreme opinion on this, but I would rather not talk at all than try to reach out to someone and they mostly react with clicking my text and putting a thumbs up. Technically, you could say the same for emojis and gifs used in texts, but to me, it feels different. I can handle the gifs for some reason because there’s some effort behind it, but the text reaction really gets to me. There is some kind of eerie disconnection I feel from it.
Advice: if you’re starting to date someone and they keep using the text reaction button — run fast.