Why I decided to stop sending and receiving text messages

iphone-1032779_640Text messages can be a nuisance. Sure, they offer a convenient way to transmit ideas to other people but they can often be a distraction to the receiver.

Group Texts

One of my biggest pet peeves is group text messages. For some reason, it seems like when I’m included in a group text message, that other recipients feel the need to “reply all.” The result is that my phone dings or vibrates every ten seconds or so with some unimportant information that distracts me from what I ought to be doing in that exact moment.

Distractions

I think it is safe to say that we all are aware of how distracting text messages can be. Numerous studies have shown that notifications on our phone can interrupt us. That little ding or pulse sends a signal to our brain demanding immediate attention. Soon, it becomes an addiction. Every time the phone beeps, buzzes, or rings, we feel compelled to respond due to the addictive nature of messages.

It became a serious problem in my house. I could be sitting at the dinner table with my wife and kids when suddenly I receive a text notification. It would grab my attention, and I would respond immediately. Meanwhile, I completely zoned out of the room. My wife or children would be talking to me and I wouldn’t even hear them.

We think it’s convenient to send and receive text messages. And it is, without question. But I think it’s dangerous. If my addicted brain automatically responds to a text notification every time I get one, what if I was on the highway driving? And yes, my job does demand a lot of driving. We all know how unsafe it is to text and drive. But what makes addictions so dangerous is that the behavior is on automatic.

For me it was a no brainer. There is enough talk in business space about technology becoming a distraction. Technology is a good thing but it can produce negative results if we are not careful.

I recently heard a podcast by Michael Hyatt and his disdain for text messages. I agree with him wholeheartedly.

No one should have the kind of access to me that text messages allow. That’s why I have decided to stop sending and receiving text messages.

Retraining my contacts

I am currently working on retraining my circle when it comes to contacting me. Since text messages imply an immediate response, I have determined the following protocol for reaching me.

  1. If you require an immediate response, call me.
  2. If you do not require an immediate response, email me.

These are two very simple rules but they are powerful.

First of all, if you have something to say to me and it’s important, why wouldn’t you call me? If the information you want to share is as important as sending a text message but you wouldn’t call me to share it, then is it really that important?

Secondly, if you wouldn’t pick up the phone to call me because the information you desire to relay is not as important as you thought or doesn’t require an immediate response, an email is the best way to get in touch with me. And here is why:

  1. Emails contain a subject line. I can easily categorize my emails based on the subject lines. This makes finding a message very easy. There is no way to categorize text messages on my phone. That means it is very easy for me to lose your message.
  2. Emails are not easily deleted. It is very easy for me to go through my phone and accidentally delete text messages. Granted, you could easily delete an email; however, if you file your emails using folders, you will be less likely to delete an important email.

Inappropriate use of text messages

Text messages are also used inappropriately. Text messages were originally referred to as SMS. That acronym stands for short message system. Text messages replaced instant messaging; however, they were intended for short messages. Too often, I have received long-form text messages that would have been better suited for an email than a text message.

So with all of these thoughts in mind, I decided to stop sending and receiving text messages. Some people are unhappy with this decision but since I have done it, it has been very freeing!

There is no way to stop receiving text messages on AT&T iPhones. However, you can pay a fee to subscribe to an optional service offered by AT&T to stop receiving text messages.

Here’s what I have done to workaround that:

I announced to everyone that usually texts me that I am no longer sending and receiving text messages.

I turned off notifications on most of my iPhone apps.

When I get an unwanted text message, I have set up a shorthand response that I can quickly type in that delivers a message that says:

“This number is no longer receiving text messages. If your message is urgent, please call.”

Since I have implemented this, I am no longer receiving strings of unimportant text messages. I feel free!

What are your thoughts about this? Do you find text messages to be a nuisance?

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