Erick Rommel

Compared to you, I am not a social creature.

In the past week, I’ve only sent or received text messages from nine people. Actually, nine is a bit of an exaggeration. If I remove automatic texts from companies wanting my business and messages that I sent myself as reminders, that number is reduced to four.

As someone outside the texting bubble, I’m intrigued by those who live their lives a handful of characters at a time. I recently read about a woman who took away her daughter’s phone for a day as punishment. In 24 hours, her daughter had missed 306 text messages. That’s approximately a text every five minutes. Probably more because the sender and the receiver need sleep at some point, don’t they?

I think reaction to that number of texts probably varies. Generally speaking, I assume someone older would say that’s too much messaging. Or, in grumpy adult speak, “No one should have that much to say.”

Those who are younger probably have one of two reactions. Either, “That’s nothing. I can send a text a minute, let me show you,” or “Please, mom, I really, really, really want a phone. Really.”

I look at it differently. I don’t know if frequent texting is good or bad. Before texting and before everyone had cellphones, teens were just as obsessive. Instead of using their fingers to communicate, they used the family phone. In some households, parents installed second phone lines for their children, just so the parents could use the first.

That’s no worse than frequent texting, just different. And, as we should all know, different isn’t bad.

I may not text a lot, but I rely on my cellphone. I’m one of those people who is always looking at it. I check my work email constantly, even when I take a day off. Last year, when I went on a weeklong vacation, I promised that I wouldn’t check my work email.

The first few days were probably amusing to watch as I struggled, but after several days, I broke the habit. By the end of the week, I didn’t miss checking email at all.

Breaking away from the email bombardment was pleasant. As a result, my vacation was relaxing. Removed from messages that always seem more important than they really are, I was able to clear my head. When I returned to work, it felt as if I had truly disconnected from work, something that would not have happened if I’d read my email.

If I ever spoke with a frequent texter, I’d question the conversations that take place on a phone screen. Does such constant, short communication make relationships stronger or just more frequent?

I’d also share my vacation story and suggest unplugging for a week as well. My assumption is that those who are merely friends of convenience because of texting’s ease would quickly slip away. By the end of the week, true friends would find different ways to remain close.

Who knows, they might even use a telephone and call.