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Did you get my text? Where did you go?

Did you get my text? Where did you go?
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BY JILL MATLOW

As a baby boomer, I’ve witnessed how much technology and the way people communicate has evolved so much over the last few decades. Growing up in simpler times, my fellow baby boomers and I didn’t know what we were missing, yet we were grateful every time the advanced technology came our way, always wondering what would be next.

I remember the exact day I heard I would be getting email on my computer. I was working in a hospital in Philly, and one of my colleagues told me she had just gotten email and that I was going to love it! It was in the 1990s and I was in my 30s at that time. She was right—I did love it —and never truly realized how much joy it was going to bring into my life. I thought it was the be all and end all of communication.

That is, until text messaging came into the fold…

I’m sure everyone can agree that text messaging has changed our lives considerably and mostly for the better. And yet, I am still in the camp of people who harbor mixed emotions about text messaging. Does anyone else have a problem getting on board with having ‘conversations’ via text messaging that seem to go on for 40 minutes? What happened to a 5-minute phone call? Am I that old school to even ask that?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of text messaging but nothing compares to hearing an actual voice when you just want to catch up live with family or an old friend. My friends and I from way back actually make it a point to catch up by phone at least a few times a month due to our busy schedules. We all agree that keeping in touch via text is just too impersonal.

For those times when I do resort to text messaging, I continue to be baffled by some of the behavior I’ve experienced. For example, I’ll be in the middle of texting and the other person goes missing in the middle of the conversation. I might also be multi-tasking, but I find myself looking down at my phone every five minutes waiting for their reply text. At least on a phone call, one of the parties will say good bye signaling that the conversation has ended!

Equally as maddening as the disappearing act is the “hey what’s up?” text. I’ll tell you what’s up—my blood pressure from getting your “‘hey what’s up” text because I’m assuming you’re bored and need some entertainment. This type of message is usually followed by “how was your weekend”? Do people actually answer these types of text messages or is it just my impatience getting the best of me during those times when I don’t feel like documenting my weekend in five words or less?

I think in the dating world, some of the pitfalls of text messaging are quite evident. I’ve had friends tell me that these days, most guys prefer text messaging to the phone. That has been my experience too but I think it can be tricky. I find getting to know someone over text messaging to be very impersonal. How do you interpret tone and nuance (while not being too judgmental about their spelling and grammatical errors too)? I kid about that part (sort of).

Speaking of the early stages of dating, have you ever found yourself in this predicament? Your text goes unanswered and after a few minutes you might resend it, wondering if they ever received the first text. And then you might resend it again. This behavior might escalate if you’ve had a few drinks. Nothing depicts that better than this sign I saw a few weeks ago outside a bar:

Fortunately, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I never had to worry about re-sending that unanswered text message (or messages). That’s one of those instances when it was probably a good thing that we didn’t have text messaging back then, because we all know being impulsive and impatient can only lead to disastrous outcomes!

With it all, I guess the reason I have a bit of frustration with this mode of communication is that with email or voicemail, you can get back to people when it’s convenient for you, yet I often feel that there is an expectation with text messaging (and I could be wrong) that the response should be more immediate. I find that if I really have some urgent matter that needs someone’s immediate attention, I’ll resort to the phone first or maybe send a quick text. For all other matters, email. What about you?

With all the improved technology, do you find that your communication with people has improved with text messaging or are you like me, still resorting to the phone for those chats with family and friends? What is your preferred mode of communication? We’d love to hear your feedback (as long as it’s not via text).

And by the way, how was your weekend?

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Jill Matlow
Jill Matlow spent much of her career working in many different facets of the healthcare industry writing marketing proposals, creative briefs and tactical plans. She is thrilled to now be writing articles geared to baby boomers who are nostalgic about their past but still hopeful about their futures. While music is her first passion, writing comes in a close second.