Hi. My name is
Eric, and I am a textaholic. Actually, I have been recovering for
almost a year. My texting started three years ago, when I fell in love
for the first time. Like my peers, I was seduced by this new dimension
of communication. Texting was easy, efficient, and always accessible.
When my youthful impulsiveness collided with a romantic relationship,
the result was an overwhelming texting compulsion.
Early on, I
learned that textaholic lovers do not have "me" time. They cannot stop
themselves from relaying full play-by-plays of their lives to each
other. Texting fills any brief communication void. Working on my
research paper, xoxo. Trying to decide which shirt to wear, miss you.
Brushing my teeth, love you. The text alert beeps after every page
during pleasure reading. The vibration buzzes in between bites of
afternoon snacks. And when the phone sits idly in a pocket, it
transmits waves of discomfort.
Like any addiction, limits
disappear for textaholics. The texting becomes flat-out inappropriate.
My family dinners included unseen guests at the table. My siblings and
I had perfected the art of texting significant others with one hand
underneath our napkins, while the other hand brought food to our
mouths. My girlfriends were electronically included on family
vacations. While my eyes connected with landmarks, my fingers stayed
connected to cell-phone buttons. My textaholic stepsister and I have
raced to see who can text faster without looking at the phone -
old-school, one letter at a time. In a matter of seconds, we can tap
out a full paragraph with flawless spelling and punctuation.
textaholics, rendered senseless by illusions of true love and
invincibility, do not simply hurt feelings with rudeness. They often
enter into the realm of youthful recklessness, physically endangering
themselves and others. Textaholics refuse to turn their phones to
silent when they sleep, subjecting themselves and roommates to restless
sleep through late-night buzzes and beeps. They drive with one hand,
using the other to type out "I love you" before the stoplight changes
back to green, sending hearts and smiley faces while switching lanes on
Even as the world wises up to this growing
problem among its youth, textaholics remain socially acceptable
addicts. They speak openly about their addiction. They laugh about
their problem. They acknowledge their ridiculousness. Then they insist
that breaking their habit would be impossible. They think that they
will go crazy without the constant communication.
recovering textaholic, I can attest that the feeling of liberation is
anything but crazy. That is not to say the early stages of recovery
were not strange. For weeks, I could not shake the constant anxiety. I
felt my right thigh vibrate even as my phone sat idle. I reached into
my right pants pocket out of habit, holding the phone briefly - opening
it, closing it, putting it back. I had grown so attached to my phone
that I almost missed using it, missed the nonstop doting and attention.
And then I remembered. I remembered all the petty fights
stemming from texting - texting enough, texting more, forgetting to
text, neglecting to text. I remembered the effort of devising
strategies to text during family outings and class without being
reprimanded. I remembered the withdrawal - the physical craving for
just one more text, the panic when an hour passed with none. I
remembered how the constant messaging induced constant uneasiness.
addictive behavior hurt everyone. It tested the patience of friends and
family. My behavior irked, insulted and distanced. Whether I was
watching a ball game with the guys or sharing a movie night with the
family, my posture always looked the same: neck bent slightly forward,
calloused thumbs punching away. Smiles and laughter hid that I could
never wholly put my heart into any activity when a chunk always longed
for something else. Living in the moment was impossible, and for a long
time, everyone knew it but me.
My story is the story of my
generation - the generation that has grown up taking technology for
granted and abusing it. Our elders, ironically the generation that
produced all our technologies, berate us for relying too much on their
inventions. As they shun our inability to think critically, they have
failed to recognize our genius. Today’s youth have devised more ways to
rely on technology than inventors could have thought fathomable. The
mastermind behind texting did not think that short messages could
supplant the traditional love letter. Our elders cannot comprehend the
reinvented language of love - intimacy expressed through affectionate
abbreviations like "Luv u 2" and such sweet symbols as :-) and <3.
textaholics are too consumed with debating which smiley to send to
actually smile at real-life experiences. They are too obsessed with
texting to look up from their phone and make eye contact during
conversations. They are too busy typing to know how to hold hands, let
alone caress another person.
This all does not bode well for
our near future. At the end of the day, dating somebody is not a matter
of the sweetest texts. It is a matter of finding your best friend - the
person you most enjoy spending time with, sharing real experiences
with, sleeping in the same bed with after a long day at work.
young lovers are tomorrow’s married couples. If my peers cannot realize
this sooner than later, the marriages of my generation may only survive
thanks to "Good Night, Baby" texts from one side of the bed to the