— Dat Best Friend Life

How I quit texting (and became a better friend)

When people find out I don’t text, they look at me with a mixture of shock and pity like something’s wrong with me, as though I live in a land foreign to them. The thing is, I used to text. A lot. I didn’t realize how bad my addiction was until one day when I was complaining to my then-boyfriend about a friend not texting me back.

“Why don’t you call her?” he said.

“What?” I said. “She wouldn’t pick up if I did. Besides, everyone texts, no one calls me.”

Right after I said that, I realized how sad it was: No one calls me. And it made no sense. I had friends. Where were they all? Why weren’t they calling? I stopped to think about it—when had I last called them? Then it occurred to me: I was addicted to texting.

The pre-addicted-to-texting me only sent a few texts here and there. But soon that increased to twenty, fifty, one-hundred, two-hundred texts a day. To me, texting was like a modern-day walkie-talkie: short, stilted, instantaneous communication. At work, you could send quick sound bites to friends — “Ahhh! My crazy boss!” or “Hot new guy started!” Soon, my super-short texts became novellas, substituting for real conversations. I felt more connected to my friends than ever, redefining “close contact” without actually being close in proximity.

Soon, though, texting started getting me into trouble. I was almost fired at my job when I was caught typing texts instead of typing work.

“Natalia, there’s more to life than texting,” my boss said, catching me at it again.

From then on, I left my phone in my purse all day, out of temptation’s reach.

The combination of my boss’s sentence echoing through my head, friends chiding me that I never called them and that day when I wondered why my friend hadn’t texted me back got me thinking—was I so addicted to texting that I’d lost sight of other types of communication? Was I a bad friend? Did I even still know how to have a verbal conversation?

It just so happened that Easter was approaching, which meant Lent: 40 days and 40 nights of sacrificing something. People usually gave up their biggest vices, things like caffeine, chocolate, sex. I could surely go without texting for as long, right? To hold myself accountable, I posted this on Facebook: “It’s Lent! I have given up texting! (I know!) Phone calls only.” I also reminded people in my voicemail message, “Remember, no texting!” Still others I told in person and over the phone, and sent one final mass text announcing it, too.

Texts would still come in from those who hadn’t gotten my no-more-texting memo. I’d want to look—what if I missed something?—but refused. I’d always been an all-or-nothing person. If I checked that one text, I’d be tempted to write back. Instead, I’d just hit “delete.” If it was really, truly important, I figured that person would call me. Their phone was already in their hand, anyway.

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