I’m a ’90s baby, and there’s something really special about that. I grew up making mud pies in the backyard, rolling down hills despite the bumps and bruises I would definitely feel later in the day, and riding bikes in my neighborhood with kids from around the block so long as my hiney was inside before the street lights started glowing. On the other hand, and in what feels like a parallel universe, I also grew up with the sudden boom of technology — cell phones, texting, and internet being easily accessible in the palm of nearly everyone’s hands.
I guess you could say that I had the best of both worlds, but if we were to talk about the old soul that is me, I miss the simplicity of the one that came first.
Don’t get me wrong — the technological advancements of the modern world are nothing short of astounding. Technology literally saves lives. It has advanced, and continues to advance, the human race in ways we never thought possible, and it encourages a healthy connection with loved ones despite the miles that may separate us. It brings joy in the little ways, too, like finding old friends on Facebook you thought you’d lost forever, and having a portable alarm clock, calculator, radio, and GPS all rolled up into one handheld device instead of dragging along many (the good Lord knows I can’t read a map to save my life).
Still, I miss the raw connection we used to have with one another before the buzz of this digital age. My heart may not be aching to bring back the long, twisty and always-to-be-tripped-over phone cord that came with a landline, but I miss sitting at the kitchen table taking my phone calls and hearing about someone else’s day. I miss hearing that continuous ring during dinner and letting it roll over to the answering machine to pick up later. And I miss saying, “Let me call you back at nine when this phone call is free.”
I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but as of right now, I have 121 unread text messages in my phone’s inbox. Why, you might ask? Because this millennial genuinely hates texting. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to feel this way. Unlike most others in my generation, this should sort of be my “thing.” Along with the other social platforms I should have down pat like TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram… but these things just aren’t for me.
My texts pop up with a preview of the message on my phone, and I’m able to see those as long as my kids haven’t robbed me of my iPhone to watch endless hours of Blippi or monster truck YouTube clips. So it’s not like I’m out here blissfully ignoring anyone and everyone who might be trying to get ahold of me. But in my opinion, a text message just doesn’t feel personal enough. Maybe I was born in the wrong era, but I’d rather talk on the phone with one of my friends or family members than guess their tone through words on a screen.
I want to hear their voice — really hear it — so that I may discern the mood that’s set the stage for their day. Then, I want to ask them about their day… the good, the bad, and the boring, all of those miniscule details nobody takes the time to share through a text message. And above all, I don’t want my loved ones bullshitting me through a rough season by covering up their wounds with a smiley face emoji.
Texting is great for some, but it feels to me like an easy way for words to get lost in translation. A simple “OK” can sound so cold, heaven forbid you receive the seemingly passive-aggressive “k” from someone who sucks at making everyday conversation. One word can lead the anxious mind to race toward ten different paranoid thoughts.
When strife does happen and it’s presented in many paragraphs worth of words, doesn’t that feel like a lot of tension and effort for something that could be discussed over the phone in ten minutes? People have hidden their emotions behind a screen for as long as there has been a screen to hide their emotions. As a busy mother of four, that is something I refuse to partake in.
To me, it’s catty and immature. Confrontation between two people isn’t something that should be read, thought on, and tossed around back and forth until someone stops responding. It is something that should be spoken, worked out, and possibly resolved in one setting. From something that was meant to bring unity, and does for so many in a multitude of ways, a brick wall has also been built around the emotions that bring one person closer to another.
Because we are human, there will always be times when a relationship experiences conflict, but I choose to deal with it in a way where I see the most beneficial outcome. I’d rather be open, honest, vulnerable, sad, and apologetic in real-time, not at an overly filtered digital level. I don’t want my words and tone to be misinterpreted.
My relationships are worth that to me.
I’m in the thick of motherhood right now, surrounded in a habitual cycle of sickness, covered in thick layers of snot and toddler tears, and there’s a top knot on my head that I’m almost certain I heard chirps coming from this morning. I can’t tend to my friends and family in the same way I always have and still desire to do so. I can’t always be hyperaware of what’s going on in my loved one’s lives, but I can cater to my friends and family in the next best way I know how to.
Sometimes a little transparency without the filter of a screen is all a relationship needs. And please, don’t @ me if you disagree. I probably won’t get the message anyway.