Call me old-school. Seriously, like “stone-ages school.” I remain about the last man on Earth who deliberately chooses not to use SMS text services to communicate. Why?
At first, my resistance to texting began by resenting being charged for sending and receiving text messages. Many of you who were born with a cellphone in your hands cannot remember the days when texting was new. Companies that offered texting capabilities as an added service to cellular phone services tried to impose a fee for texts.
Initially when I got my first cell phone in 1998, I was charged 10 cents EACH to send or receive a text. That added up rather quickly to a lot of money per month.
And even back then, bad guys would find ways to send what we refer to nowadays as spam texts. Each month, I would have to call my cellular provider to dispute charges for these unwanted spams. It was a huge hassle.
One time when I was on the phone with the cellular provider to dispute charges, I was advised that if I wanted to, I could block texts and therefore, never have to make these monthly calls to request a bill adjustment again. I did that.
The cell phone went into the pocket, only used for emergencies. I eventually decided, “I am not using this thing, why pay a monthly charge?” so I canceled the service and resumed being cellphone-free.
Then in late Fall, 2001, I was provided my first “sorta smartphone.” That is, I was provided a Blackberry by my employer. It provided some convenience for checking email and making phone calls while traveling — and in those days, I was on the road 280 days a year. But it also came with a significant drawback: the meddling micromanager expecting instantaneous response to every message he sent.
If I did not reply to an email within 10 minutes, he would send a text asking, “did you get my email?”
If I did not reply to that text within 10 minutes, he would call me and ask, “did you get my messages?”
So if I were on a plane flying cross-country and my phone was off (as requested by airlines at the time), the meddling micromanager never understood that and thought I was ignoring him when he sent messages to me while I was in the air. (I would have preferred to do that, actually….)
After one year, the Blackberry service cost was increasing, and those of us who were provided those things by our employer were asked if any of us wanted to give it up as a cost-control measure. I was the first to throw that thing in a box (with great glee!) to cancel service and return it. Reason: boss wouldn’t be able to micromanage me (as much) while I was on the road.
Fast forward to today
Since 2007, I have had a clamshell cell phone. I got it because all Road Captains in my motorcycle riding club were required to have a cell phone for safety purposes. Since it was a small device with one of those numeric key pads that required pressing some buttons numerous times to create letters (ex: if you wanted to select the letter “i”, you would have to push the “4” button 3 times. First push got a “g”, second push got an “h”, and third push got an “i”), using it to create a text is a nightmare of finger joint pain.
The method of selecting letters on a numeric keypad to create a text message was so tedious and mind-boggling, I continued to ask the cellular provider to block texting. I didn’t want it. Spouse didn’t have a cell phone, so my primary person in my life wasn’t interested in texting, so blocking that capability was not an issue.
Yes, I know that nowadays cellular companies “include” texting capability as part of their overall service plan, rather than charge 10 cents each for incoming or outgoing texts. However, the monthly fees for cell service has escalated tremendously. Texting isn’t “free.” Cell subscribers are actually (and willingly) paying much more per month for a cellular plan. Rich company executives are laughing all the way to the bank, profiting by billions each year. I absolutely resent making rich companies richer. Go ahead and waste your money on expensive cell plans — I’ll buy boots instead. 🙂
And yes, smartphones offer a lot of convenience and capability far beyond a clamshell cellphone — like having your own personal computer with internet access in the palm of your hand. I get it. I still strongly resent how much it costs to buy one and maintain its service. I also can’t read it without glasses, and it bothers me to have to get out a pair of glasses just to see what’s on the screen of the darn phone.
There are two more main reasons (and two minor reasons) why I deliberately choose not to text.
1. I have tried to use a keyboard on a smartphone — the one that pops up to create and send texts. The size of that keyboard is very hard for ol’ fat-fingered me to use. And trust me, I have really tried. I just hate it. I always make errors and constantly have to make corrections. This is so very time consuming, I can’t stand it.
2. I resent that when someone sends a text, there is an expectation of instantaneous response. This explanation says it clearly:
Texts are delivered immediately and directly to a device that most of us have with us at all times. Not as many of us are checking email on such a regular basis – even if someone owns a phone capable of sending and receiving email, there’s no guarantee email is being checked as regularly as text messages. SMS messages have more of a sense of urgency, whereas email tends to be seen as information that can be responded to at a later date.
First, no — I don’t have a phone with me at all times; second, my time is limited. Messages sent by text have an expectation of immediate response. Sorry, but that expectation is unrealistic and to me, just plain wrong. I’ll get to it when I have time (which is why I prefer email, because that sense of urgency is not as immediate.)
I know that people get annoyed when communicating with me is so limited and I do not respond with the urgency they demand. I carefully prioritize my time and attention. My priorities are different from yours.
I have had some friends go on rants saying, “I texted you, but you didn’t respond!” Oh well… get over it. That’s not how I am wired to communicate.
Minor reasons why I do not text
3. I am a stickler for the use of proper grammar, spelling, and language. I detest texting brevity to my core. The word is “you” (not U), for example. I know that SMS means “short message service” and texts are designed to be very short, so words get chopped and abbreviated. To me — an old dinosaur who studied Latin with Julius Caesar — I do not like communicating this way. It is abrupt and implies carelessness. I just don’t like it. (Personal choice.)
4. As mentioned above, my old fingers aren’t as nimble as younger people’s fingers are, so using tiny keyboards does not work for me. I make too many errors and I have wasted a lot of time correcting my mistakes because to me, sending a message with typos is a poor reflection on the sender’s education, care, and attention to detail.
I have declined to interview some people for jobs because their grammar and spelling in communications with me have been absolutely atrocious. I think their bad spelling and grammar habits are a direct result of using texting as a primary means of communication. If they cannot care enough about communicating in well-written English in complete sentences, then they are demonstrating that perhaps they don’t care enough about the job for which they are applying.
I know that I am in the extreme minority. I have suffered some consequences of my decision not to send or receive text messages — being cut off from communications with younger family members who only use texting as their choice of communication, and will not use email or telephone.
Be that as it may, the upsides of this choice include: 1) savings of an average of more than $1,000 per year (by not paying for a monthly data plan ransom); and 2) P-E-A-C-E. Your urgency is not mine. I’ll get to you when I get to you.
Life is short: If you do not like or do not want to use a certain technology, you do not have to just because “everyone else does.” (Didn’t Mom ask you when you were a kid, “if all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Naaaaaahhhh….)