Is Texting Ruining The Art Of Conversation?


She recalls overhearing students chuckling about the way people older than them communicate.

“My parents left me a VOICEMAIL. Can you believe it?” one said, as if voicemail had gone the way of the dinosaurs.

This doesn’t sound surprising or particularly troublesome to Lisa Auster-Gussman, who’ll be a senior this fall at the University of Richmond in Virginia. For her, there are simply particular tools she uses to communicate, depending on the recipient.

Email is for professors, yes. Phone calls and maybe the occasional text are for parents, if the parents know how to do the latter.

“But I don’t communicate much with older people. So much of my life is set up over text,” says Auster- Gussman, who sends and receives an average of about 6,000 text messages a month.

Many are done as “group texts,” sharing messages among eight college friends who live in the same building.

The interactions are nothing more than you’d say in a casual conversation, Auster-Gussman says – but they are constant when they’re not together.

Recently, for instance, she went to a movie and came out to find 50 text messages waiting for her on her phone.

Meanwhile, last summer, when she was away from her boyfriend, she went days without talking to him on the phone, but texted with him several times a day.

“You’re not even really talking to him,” she remembers her perplexed father saying.

“But I felt like I was talking to him all day, every day,” Auster-Gussman says.

Is there some aversion to talking on the phone? Not really, she says. It’s just a preference. In this day and age, it’s just what you do.

As Anna, the 13-year-old in suburban Chicago, sees it: “There are people you’ll text, but won’t call. It’s just awkward that way.”

“It’s not about anything important – just a way to stay in touch with each other.”

She and her closest friends also send each other videos of themselves and their surroundings – maybe of their dogs or something new in their bedroom. “People would probably say, like,’Why don’t you just call them?”’ Anna says.

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Posted by on Jul 2nd, 2012 and filed under American Street Guide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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