A Lousy Textcuse for Communication

At the risk of invading my children’s privacy, I can’t let this one slide. Breaking up with someone by text—be it a best friend or a boyfriend—is bullshit. It’s weak. It’s bad form. It’s pathetic, lazy and, well stupid. And SOB if it didn’t happen to my kids not once but twice this week.

Text messaging, or texting, has its place and I have used it to communicate more than I ever thought I would. Usually, however, it’s about meeting times and places and sharing sports scores with those who couldn’t make it to the game. I’ve even learned to let punctuation slide and use shorthand on words like “2” and “ur” and “k.”

It’s especially handy for communicating phone numbers or for contacting your nephew across the country to have him supply the punch line for a joke you just couldn’t quite get right.

Texting is handier than email and certainly briefer than a conversation. It has its positive place in communication technology. But to use it to break up with someone?

That’s just bullshit.

I think we’ve all had occasion to make a phone call knowing it was more likely we’d face an answering machine rather than have a conversation; however, that’s usually for things like regrets to a basket, botox, candle, clothing, jewelry, taser or Tupperware party. Email has been another outlet and I, for one, check my email in-box far more than my voicemail. These have become not only handier but also accepted forms of communication. After all, not all of us are equal when it comes to social communication skills. And really, these days, who has the time for a conversation?

But are we really ready to completely dump the art of conversation when it comes to our personal relationships? 

Our kids sure seem to think so.

At first I thought it was funny that junior high kids who claimed to be “going out,” did so by having a strictly texting relationship. They didn’t go bowling, bike-riding or to the movies. As far as I could tell, they didn’t even talk to one another. Instead, they texted—even when they were in the same room. They “went out” by texting and they “broke up” by texting.
In high school, however, the relationship/s appeared to mature a bit. There was little texting and a lot of time spent together, albeit primarily in group settings. Come to think of it, I remember hearing a few complaints that the ultimate bad breakup boy in this story was pretty lame about responding to texts and therefore, he rarely showed up to the movies or to the parties. I started to think some time ago that he wasn’t a very good boyfriend. And he sure proved it last night when he finally figured out how to use the text messaging function on his phone.

My daughter will be fine and she rebounded very quickly. In fact, over breakfast this morning it was she who used the word “weak” to describe the text breakup. I, on the other hand, could only come up with a few annoying clichés such as “you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince;” and “there’s a lot of fish in the ocean . . .” And, of course, I pointed out how stupid it was for him to send the text on a Wednesday when he had to face her in school the next day. If he had any brains he’d have waited til Friday to drop the breakup bomb.

On our ride to school I reminded her that the best response—maybe even the best revenge—was to continue to be excellent. She not only can rely on herself, but also on some pretty great friends to help remind her how truly excellent she is. Hopefully, she’ll learn from the experience and soon forget about the boyfriend and his rude breakup method. After all, the poor dope didn’t know a good thing when it was in front of him having a real conversation or when it was spelled out in text messaging.

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