questionsis texting ruining the art of conversation?


was SOOOOOOOO tempted to answer: Y (text speak for yes) but since i believe @gmwhit is correct in this i thought a few actual words might be nice. i admit that i text a lot, but it's only the people that i call too. i don't believe in facebook or twitter--if you want to know how i am then call me.

remember the olden days when phone were putting the art of letter writing into an early grave? it's part of the instant gratification generation.


Asaac Asimov was way ahead of you with Naked Sun and the planet Solaria, where everyone lives alone and "get togethers" are normally via hologram. It was published in 1957.

BTW (<--- see what I did there?) Asimov also had computers with hypertext links in the Foundation series, published 1953.


@moosezilla: :-D I do remember the flack about phones replacing written letters. Always thought if you couldn't see someone in person, it was so much better to hear their voice...the inflections, etc. I still write letters - they're now called e-mails. I also send cards & write in them. Does that count?

Overall, I find texting an abbreviated way of saying pretty much nothing. Kind of impersonal, even if they are 'personally' transmitted. ;-) I think my dismay is the brevity of texting. As I said, they're sound bites...w/o the sound. Would anyone talk that way in person?


@adadavis: Yes. For those who prefer reading the new-fangled way. JK Asimov was a brilliant man!


I may be one of the oddballs of my generation (apologies to any wooters my age in the same category), but I kind of hate texting. I would much rather talk to a person than send them a text. I'm sure part of this stems from the fact that I was an English major in college, so I hate textspeak. Whenever I DO send a text, it's always in fully written out English (except when I'm trying to drive my mother crazy :-D). It also drives me nuts that I can't really convey my tone of voice through text. In all honesty, probably the only texts I send these days are when I'm trying to get some kind of simple information out of someone (address, phone number, name, etc.) or if I know they're somewhere where they can't talk and I want to leave them a really short message. For me, texts will never substitute for a real conversation.


@wootfast: I'm amazed! Not necessarily that you might agree, but in the hilarious way you answered. Perfect irony. :-)


@gmwhit: Interesting question. I've noted this before. I recommend this book, which you will find tangentially related.

{The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains: By Nicholas Carr}

I've written four letters within the past twelve months. I used to write many of them, but noted last year that anyone I would normally write a letter to is gone to where they can no longer read them. I wonder at the loss of our past, which proceeds at a terrible rate. I first realized that we would lose things when I was a hero (years ago) for having the last available Sun3 server with a 9-track tape drive, and the ability and knowledge to decode the tapes.

Emails are ephemeral, and text messages even more so. Surely 90% of all our communication is meant to be transitory, but what happens when it is all vanished...


Speaking of texting, I'm pretty certain that you've see this, or others like it. Whenever I want a laugh (sardonic, though it may be), I enjoy browsing through the 'conversations.'


@gmwhit: [I just can't do it in 1000 chars]

...when we no longer have the journals of our grandparents to show us what daily life was like, when we no longer have access to the formulas rejected, the math discarded, the philosophical statements denied?

When I was growing up, I had intellectual giants to keep me company. Camus. Voltaire. Milton. Asimov and Heinlein. The list is endless. I also wrote my own thoughts, and still have the things I wrote.

Not only does texting limit our intellectual efforts, it limits our tomorrows.



@shrdlu: The old intellectual giants are still there for us to read & learn from...both in print and e-book form.. Whether or not there are any new ones worth reading is another question. I fear that most the younger generations are not interested in the written word. That saddens me. I have an extensive hard bound library that I thought I would pass on to my son. Though he IS a reader, he does not want it. Don't know where I'm going w/that...only that something precious to me is disappearing.

You mentioned that 90% of electronic communications is transitory. So it is. The bulk of what's transmitted in that form is not worth saving anyway. Will mention that phone conversations and those that are face-to-face are not permanent either. Little is today. It seems almost empty w/no value placed on individuals and personal contact.


Hah, this question is pretty funny because it's true.

About a month ago I was at Wal-Mart with my sister waiting at McDonalds and this old guy suddenly walks up to us and says, " Do you guys still talk to each other?". I was seriously like baffled and I was like what was this guy talking about. I was just checking my Facebook because I wanted to show my sister something hilarious and my sister was just checking her messages too.

I dunno, texting as a teenager was nothing but nonsense, lol/omg/wtf/hi and l33t (etc) to friends (I pull off like 3000 texts/month @ $.10c each, I was grounded). Texting in college nowadays is pretty much more "intellectual" towards classmates and friends, usually reminders and questions, etc. Plus the beauty of text messages is that I could read it later when I'm not too busy or when I'm driving. Plus some people can't hear me over the phone too, for some odd reason.

It really depends how you see it though, but I'd say yes it ruins art of conversations.


Absolutely. Texting, and Twitter. Neither promote actual discourse.


I watch 3 of my sons texting their wife or girlfriend, then see it followed up with a "conversation". Two of my sons can actually talk, the third one thinks that texting actually is conversing. I think his marriage won't work out so well but NEITHER of them (wife has the same problem) will listen to me that a conversation actually is better than texting.

My fourth son and his wife only text when needed. The two of them can actually talk to people.


I've been thinking this more and more myself. I personally don't really like talking on the phone, so texting was quite nice when I first got it. However, if I have a quick question or I need a more immediate response, I'll make a phone call. It happens so often that I'm with a friend and he has a question for another friend or a parent, and texts. More often than not, I ask why not just call, especially if it could save us having to wait around for a reply. There's never really a good answer.

I think people are starting to forget that phones are actually phones. Especially with the prominence of smartphones, the device can do anything. And talking has, in a way, become obsolete. There are "more efficient" ways of communicating.

The strongest example is any party. People will be sitting around the sofas, and everyone is on their phone. Texting or on Facebook or whatever. It's sad, really. A conversation barely lasts a few sentences anymore.


I've been of the mind that the ART of conversation has been dying a long slow death and it started long before texting got in the game.

I feel that people have been getting less and less knowledgeable on a variety of subjects so the conversations themselves have been dumbing down for a long time. And don't get me started about the quality of people's communication.

Yeah, I guess I could be being kind of a snob but people who couldn't tell the difference between two, too and to now get shielded by "2." Good luck 2 U getting a good job with that sh*t.


@phillystyle: I don't think I could say anything more profound than that. +10 if possible(even though it's not).


I guess I'm one of the few who don't believe texting is all that bad. I rarely use any acronyms like lol, lmao, wtf, jk, etc. and try to use proper spelling and punctuation. It makes things so much easier, because most of my friends are a ways away and the reception on my phone isn't all that good, so that leaves texting people. I think it's more about how you use what you use, rather than saying that it's ruining things in and of itself.


i usually type properly while texting using the right there their they're, but the part that irks me about texting is people walking together, not talking, and texting other people.


It is true. The kids don't even talk to each other in person OR on the phone. Our cell phone bill has hardly any minutes used, but averages around 10,000 texts per month for 4 people! At least they are communicating, I guess. It also seems that if you are shy you don't tend to interact in person anyway, but it seems that texting helps to overcome that hesitation and allows more socialization for people who would otherwise be somewhat withdrawn.


Had a (phone) conversation this evening & brought up this subject. From the woman I was talking to, an example of how 'useful' & wonderful' texting is : Her daughter was at a viewing for a deceased grandparent. Daughter texted her & asked the name of a certain relative. She texted back. Daughter texts again asking the wife's name. She said to me, "See, that's why texting is good," or something to that effect.

My (silent) reaction: Why in the world would you text someone in that solemn situation to ask a person's name? What keeps you from walking over to them (they WERE there), and saying, "I'm 'Sally,' Grandparent X's granddaughter, I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name(s)." Why is it better to text in that circumstance? I find it rude....pretty much pointless. An example of texting instead of talking.


@gmwhit: Thank you for this question, and mentioning in your last response the notion of rudeness. That is what annoys me the most. And it's not just the younger generation. I've had some conversations (surprisingly!) with my cousin, who's about my age, in regard to her constantly either texting or being on the phone when we're supposed to be doing something together. She's even started - sometimes - to leave her phone in the car when she comes for a visit. But most people in my family are now nearly always texting eachother during family gatherings, etc., and I often find myself sitting watching tv by myself. Even when we're trying to have a conversation, it's always interrupted by a text or phone call. That USED to be rude. If you were talking with someone and the phone rang, you either didn't answer it or - unless it was an emergency - if you did answer you asked the person if you could call him/her back because you had company. How often does that happen now?


This thread raises a number of questions: Is texting ever more useful than a phone call? What happened to long phone conversations? What will happen to our current electronic communications in 100 years? Have conversational skills declined?

I find texts useful for short, efficient exchanges of information compared to trading voicemails. I miss long phone conversations, but most of my friends have young children, and I hate calling someone and bothering them; I'd much rather that someone called me. Most communications from every era are ephemeral, no more or less now than ever. As for conversational skills: I spend a lot of time conversing with people. I observe no decline in skill, although the constantly-on nature of technology and increasing commingling of work and "life" seem to have increased demands on time and attention. I've noticed that people seem to spend less time focusing on each other when one-on-one, but also that my boss expects a reply within 10 minutes at 10:30PM.


Yes, I do. I don't text, so I may not be a good one to judge. I do know that having a live conversation with someone who receives a text and responds to it while they are still talking to you, is beyond irritating. I saw the oddest thing and I hope it's not a sign of the future; 4 people, seated in a very nice restaurant. All 4 of them were either texting or talking on their cellphones, and not just quick calls; I watched them for about 10 minutes and, during that whole time, they were "on" thier cellphones. It seemed bizarre to me; why bother to dine with these people, then ignore them for electronic devices. At any rate, I hope we don't lose the ability to converse face to face, without the aid (or intrusion?) of techology!


Dunno. On the fence with this one. I do believe that a phone call is in most cases more appropriate. I will ALWAYS call if there is something important to say. I do believe that texting has its place for short, succinct messages. I use SWYPE on my android device and it makes texting sooo easy.
As for a "+1" for texting, my Dad (baby boomer) texts me quite often. The most communication we've shared in years.



I have heard of the book; The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains: By Nicholas Carr, I have not read it but I have an idea of what it is about.
Funny thing the book you recommend for me to read says you should not trust your brain to remember stuff, the brain is not perfect, and why use up extra power if it is easily at your fingertips. It even states (I have also read this in a book about Einstein) that Einstein applied this same practice, he did not know his own phone number.

As for the OP my 2 kids have racked up over 13000 text in a month and still have friends over and talk to them.


There are times I wish my friends would just pick up the phone and call instead of texting, so yes.


I think there's a time for texting and a time for conversations. If I have a quick message for someone such a question or a reminder, I would text them. If there's a relative or a friend I haven't talked to in a while, I'll call them. I think for some people it makes those quick messages more frequent and abundant. This, too, might be something that keeps people in touch, especially if they're someone who doesn't really like talking on the phone.