Why Telephone is Better Than Texting


I could have written this article.

As a dating coach in the 21st century, I have witnessed many of my peers create products and programs teaching people to text and use dating apps.

That’s sort of like telling people to use more plastic and fossil fuels. We sure do love the convenience, but we have to admit: there’s some pretty serious consequences.

In this case, the consequence is that people conduct entire relationships via text – and, objectively – text is not the best way to conduct a relationship. The easiest, maybe. The laziest, for sure? But I don’t know a single important conversation that ever went BETTER because it was being conducted by text.

I don’t know a single important conversation that ever went BETTER because it was being conducted by text.

“One of the best arguments in favor of phone calls will be obvious to anyone who’s ever gone back and forth for three days via email trying to pick a spot for Tuesday’s happy hour. Guhan Subramanian, the director of the Harvard Program on Negotiation, which teaches business- and law-school students the finer points of conflict resolution, argues that spoken conversation accomplishes far more in a shorter amount of time. In any discussion, “people are asking questions, probing, asking follow-up questions,” he says. “It’s obviously a lot easier to do when you’re over the phone or in person, compared to by email or text.”

I’m fortunate to have met my wife before texting was ubiquitous and could probably imagine that I’d be abusing text, the same as anybody else. But since I’m on the outside looking in, I can share candidly that any time a client shares her lengthy text chain with me, an actual conversation is always in order. Newsflash: evidently conversation is scary. Honestly, I did not know this.

“For other people, a sense of anxiety can come from the on-the-spot nature of phone calls. Text communication allows anywhere from a moment to several days of self-editing. But that itself can come with some drawbacks, according to Subramanian. “Over email, the message that’s received may not be the same as the message that’s sent,” he says. It’s missing the back-and-forth contextualization and clearer tone that spoken conversation provides.”

On-the-spot nature? Isn’t it, just like, TALKING to people? The kind of thing we’ve done for millennia when we see them out and about? Why is it anxiety-producing to spontaneously form words without mediating them through a phone? Can anybody explain this to me?

“Gerkin has taken up the same tactic I have to test the waters: simply asking people whether they’d like to give him a call. “The assumption that convenience means written, quick communication is a thing that needs to be challenged,” he says, even though it’s sometimes true. The trick, according to Gerkin, is to be more actively thoughtful about which medium might be best suited to a particular interaction. He nods to the work of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle, who argues that texting and emailing are often useful for quick, logistical, or low-priority communications, but that for more complex matters, spoken conversations can’t be replaced.”

No shit. I made this back in 2014. Enjoy.





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