(Don’t) Text Me

“Yeah, we should get together with the kids, after their naps some time,” I said to a friendly local mama I met at Gymboree then at the park. This was over the summer when I was pregnant with my Ellis and savoring my playtime with my OCUO (Only Child Until October).

“I know. We live pretty close by. Give me your phone number and I can text you when we come back to the park,” she responded.

“Oh, I don’t have text. Er, I mean I never allowed texting on my phone even if it’s a smartphone and I end up checking my emails too much. I know, my friends find it so annoying. Do you check your emails?” I asked.

“No, I don’t check my emails regularly at all. Should I find you on Facebook? I check that all the time although I am under a different name and it gets sort of complicated,” explained the nice mama.

“Hmm…I prefer email because I’m actually trying to wean myself off of Facebook. I guess everyone just prefers texting. I do see why it’s necessary.”

Needless to say, we never got together.

“Text me.” “Let’s Skype.” “Email me.” “Private message me on Facebook.” “Do you FaceTime?” One of my cousins in Korea even said, “If only you were on kakaotalk, we’d be able to keep in touch more.” Yet another medium! Not to mention Twitter and Pinterest. I can’t keep up!

I know I am practically the only one who still doesn’t text. I promise I’m not doing it just to have a quirk because that would be so lame and so sad. In fact, I don’t enjoy always explaining to people how or why I don’t have text. Now I can refer them to this entry.

Around 2000, I gave in and finally acquired a cellphone. The prior year, I had borrowed my dad’s very basic cellphone when I had to take my Master’s Exam at UCLA. I was worried about having car problems on the way to the exam. When I did become a cellphone owner, I asked Verizon not to turn on this “text” option as I started hearing about friends sending and receiving too many texts and owing way more than their usual bill each month. People started warning people, “Hey, call me, don’t text me because I went way over this month.”

I have a tendency to resist technology that makes life easier. I know I am dating myself but when I was a senior in high school, I heard about something called “electronic mail.” I heard it was like a letter but NOT USING THE POSTAL SERVICE! You received the “letter” within seconds. This scared me. This level of technological advancement sounded like some voodoo black magic. E-mail? I am a Christian for God’s sakes! I declared, “Well, I don’t care how popular this E-MAIL is. I do NOT want any part of it.” I have since come around.

I have yet to come around with texting. It started with a conviction that everyone was becoming too easily reachable. Only doctors need to be reached at all hours of the day and night!

These days, both socially and professionally, people are too connected via some medium of communicating. Texting seemed to be the most direct, like someone tapping you on your shoulder no matter what you were in the middle of, and asking you to respond. “Did you get my text? You never texted back!” This makes it the most efficient way of asking someone something really fast and it bites me in the butt to not be able to do that yet I haven’t budged because of the pressure I would put on myself to respond even faster than I already do to emails.

This neurosis is related to being a people-pleaser. I try to respond to all emails and voicemails though not everyone reciprocates with this courtesy. But good for them, to be able to cut themselves a break and flake at times. I’d love to be able to allow myself to not respond sometimes but I feel a monkey on my back if I don’t. I never want to be thought of as unreliable or unresponsive. I sometimes catch myself responding to emails when I shouldn’t, like while nursing my baby in bed or while I’m supposed to be fully engaged and present, working on a puzzle with my toddler. The thought of being judged or even perceived as unresponsive drives me nuts. I pride myself in being responsive to other people’s needs so when I feel that I am failing in this, it consumes me and I am driven to try and fix this. I don’t even know why this bothers me so much since “unresponsive” isn’t synonymous with murderer or arsonist. I may have to talk to a shrink about this.

I am not able to turn this self-pressuring off. I fear that texting will only exacerbate it.

So even if I still respond to almost all emails and vmails, I want the OPTION to not respond right away because it will stress me out. Yes, I know I am overthinking things but somehow, not texting has become a vestige of a time we weren’t so unhealthily connected ’round the clock.

Sure, I am on my gmail and Facebook way too much these days, thus defeating the purpose of being unreachable at times but they are vehicles I’ve chosen. Sidenote: There is a timestamp feature on Facebook messaging, where it says, for instance, “seen at 9:01 pm,” letting the sender know when exactly you read their message. It tattles on me and I feel pressure to respond right away, much like a text would, and I don’t like it at all.

I am not sure if texting will become obsolete since so many have email capabilities on their phones now or if I will have to give in because more people, like my boys’ future schools, may choose to communicate via text.

My husband said, “Jihee-yah, if you were at a college like Virginia Tech where they’re going to start warning students of shooters on campus VIA TEXT, you’d be the only one not evacuating. You’d be in the computer lab, trying to eat your snacks and not knowing that there is a shooter on campus all because of your no texting policy. So can I please just get it for you?”

Many years ago, Kevin and I were playing a game of Amazing Race around Manhattan with a group of people from our church and they texted me the final clue. My not being able to receive texts nearly robbed us of our victory. (We still won because we were able to prove we were the earliest to the pit stop.)

I know, it’s weird. I do reconsider when I hear that someone texted me and thought I was just not responding since they don’t receive an error message from Verizon stating that recipient does not have text messaging.

You think this is beyond weird? Then don’t even get me started on my fear of video games. I don’t think it takes a psychiatrist to figure out why seeing the word “FAIL” in bright neon letters with sound effects does a number on me.

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