Don’t You Have A Text Message To Answer Or Something?

It’s that person talking to you on the subway, the one asking about the weather in the elevator, that guy in the bar trying to make conversation with you while you’re waiting for your friend to show up.

Yeah, they’re alone too, but seriously, don’t they have a text message to answer or something?

The whole idea of spontaneous communication has been misconstrued.  If you talk to me without a reason, I assume you want something from me, you’re weird, you’re lost, or you’re just creepy.

You’re definitely not just friendly, right?  No, definitely not.  That would be… well, weird.

It may be because I hail from the northeast.  Things tend to move a little faster up here, we tend to be a little more ornery when it comes to personal space, and I guess, maybe we just think we’re a little more important.

Because we definitely have text messages to answer, and if you’re talking to me without a reason, it’s not going to be well received, because my mother needs to know that I ate three pork chops for dinner, and it’s imperative that I type it NOW.

When did it become uncomfortable to wait for someone without the security of a screen?  Why do people feel the need to answer text messages at dinner?  Or pick up phone calls on the subway?  Why are we so dependent on constant connection, yet we can’t seem to welcome a social interaction that isn’t primarily digital?

We are so concerned with friend counts, that we would request to be ‘friends’ with strangers, getting excited at how many people like what we’re doing, but we can’t sit at the same bar with a new face and speak to them directly without questioning intentions or why he or she cares about our lives.

In short, the world is fucked up.

Genuine conversation is depleting faster than the ozone layer. It is so hard to talk to someone you don’t know.  I mean, really, though… what are you supposed to say?  Hi? That’s dumb.

Standing in line waiting for lunch, some guy is talking about his favorite sandwich condiments.  He happens to love BBQ sauce almost as much as his unborn child, just like me.

But I have text messages to answer, no need to chime in with my two cents.

The older man at the bus stop has a war veteran patch on the jacket he wears every day.  He’s been through some serious shit, seen things people should never see, has perspectives that would shatter bigot minds and open eyes to what is really going on.

But no one notices his patches, no one hears his stories.  There are text messages to answer.

How about those love stories where the two people met on a bus and sparked up a conversation, the girl who dropped her keys only to have the guy of her dreams pick them up for her, the guy who moves into his new apartment and rides the elevator with the girl of his dreams?

Oh yeah, those things don’t happen.

Because there are text messages to answer.

 

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36 comments

  1. I love this. I have been known at times to concentrate on my phone to ignore the really crazy people at the bus stop, but generally I like to talk to people I share random bus and elevator time with.

    • I’ve had amazing conversations with complete strangers, and if we can cast aside biases and actually just listen to others it can alleviate a lot of the negative ideals people have. And, who doesn’t love a pleasant hello in the morning!? Thanks for reading!!

  2. I don’t text, so it’s a good thing I live in a small town where people still chat without feeling awkward.
    Are you going to link this post up at yeah write? open submissions this week!

  3. For me it’s not text messages to answer, it’s just completely small talk that I want to avoid. I don’t care about a random stranger’s take about the weather. The cell phone just now makes it easier and less awkward to avoid ‘those type of people’. Curmudgeon? Right here.

  4. I’m from the northeast too. 🙂
    I keep having this feeling that one day we won’t need our phones anymore. We will just stare off into space and talk to each other without using our words, or technology. I mean really, I happened to look over at someone texting the other day and they wrote LOL. They didn’t even have a smile on their face!

  5. Also because the guy who picks up your keys might totally be a stalker. I’m a talker myself, but I try to immerse myself in the electronics when possible, because I’ve found I accidentally elicit people’s LONGEST stories .I get stuck in conversations with the most long-winded people, and I feel socially obligated to hold up my end. I can’t just say, “Uh-huh” at appropriate moments. I ask probing questions, and even if I’m bored stiff, my brain is filing those things away for later use in a story. (So yeah, the time the guy I ran into in Starbucks told off the rude flight attendant but got thrown off the plane himrself? Totally going in my novel. But I promise I’ll alter it and make it my own.)

  6. I find myself much preferring electronic communication to face-to-face, with anyone except my immediate family. I grew up in the era before emails and texts, so really, the day email was invented was the best day of my life 🙂

  7. I’m torn on this. I am trying to be more social and I think my kid is to blame for that but I hate small talk. I will crawl into my screen to avoid idle chat sometimes. You’re right, it is seen as weird. So weird. I am a NYer born and raised. We don’t do friendly unless we’re one of those weirdos. Why are we so separated by connections? I don’t know.

    Side note, I never add strangers to FB. My BF does it and he complains about creepy people he’s never met. All the time.

    Also, now I want pork chops.

    • PORK CHOPS FOR THE WIN! No, I hate small talk too, I’m just talking about getting to know strangers in a situation where you COULD feasibly get to know them without being creepy. It is a tough thing to differentiate, but important nonetheless!

      • It’s incredibly hard. And it also really does come down to where your roots are. Coming from more urbanized areas, the higher rate of “creeper crimes” are shoved in our faces so of course we’re more leery.

  8. Wow – don’t even get me started on this! I so have a bone to pick with the age of the cell phone/text message technology! As a matter of fact, I wrote about this subject in a blog entry a couple weeks ago about how no one ever hears the words, “I’ll get it” anymore, meaning, the telephone when it rings. It’s so true, though. No one wants to have a genuine conversation. You are spot on with this entry. Good job!

  9. That’s one of the things I love about this part of the world–we talk to each other. We smile, we commiserate with one another while waiting in line, we share information about our sports teams. So different from other regions!

    Besides, I’m lousy at texting.

  10. I totally identified with, well, the whole thing, but esp. what you wrote about people from the northeast. I grew up in the Boston area but have lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 20 years. I never get used to the friendly small talk.

Talk is cheap, but I'm on a budget anyway...

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