Breaking news via text because we are too busy to talk

Breaking news via text

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I was watching a new television show the other night called the “Night Shift” set in San Antonio about a group of medical doctors on -yup- the night shift. The twist is that a big portion served recently in the military. It is not grand television but its a nice show to watch as I try to settle in at night. On a recent episode the female lead character was desperate trying to get a moment alone with her boyfriend, a fellow doctor, so that she could break the news that she was pregnant.   The desperate scene reminded me of my own life the last few years.

Close to two years ago, my sister was desperately trying to reach me. She kept calling me but I was in meetings, travel and so on. My family doesn’t believe in leaving voicemail messages.  I figured she was calling to tell me of some minor bit or two. Then I was sitting in a meeting with one of my staff members. I hear my phone ping. I look down and it is a text message from my sister. I click on it and there I see the words “I am pregnant.”  Wow, I was absolutely floored. That news was completely unexpected. I texted her back “Wow. I’m surprised.” I finished my meeting and called her. She noted that she had not wanted to text the news to me but I was always busy. Indeed, I had been. Indeed, I always am.

Fast forward to three months ago. I was trying to let two different colleagues know, before the rumor mill hit, of my resignation and new job. There was no other way to let one of them know other than by text. I had to download the “WhatsApp” messenger and send about three texts. He wrote back that he was in shock. I then moved on to the next person. She and I were scheduled to talk but everytime we had to reschedule. At one point we even managed to talk for a minute and then had to hang up when another issue came up in the moment.  Eventually, I decided to text her. I told her my news. Five minutes later she called me and we had a talk about the future direction of my life for about five minutes.

Breaking news via text is an odd experience, to say the least. You write in short sentences something extremely important to you and you send it out into the void. You then wait and wait for a reaction. Often, the reaction is the wording “Wow.”  What do you take away from that? What can you take away from that?  The emotions are running wild in your fingers as you text. However, it is a cold void that you are breaking your big news into. I can only imagine thousands of people are experiencing this everyday.

We are walking around with important news to share yet we often just have to throw the news out there and hope for some pithy short-phrased text to ricochet back to us. I don’t believe that our hunger for a visceral reaction from others to our news is satisfied in this way.  Although, admittedly, when people do eventually call their emotions are “all in” at that moment. It is fleeting but it does happen. And once that happens, we start sending out other text messages to other people with our breaking news.  It becomes a bit addictive. Perhaps that is why we now sign up for braking news alerts from cable news channels such as CNN and Fox News. We hear the ping and we are all of a sudden Pavlovian dogs running to see what is happening in the world. And boy do we get angry when the breaking news alert is about some silly ting such as Ted Cruz has just announced he is running for US President.   When we run to our text alerts we want to read about life-shattering events such as the crashed plane or a tsunami.

It is as if we want to now be startled and surprised by our text messages.  It is an interesting state of being in that most text messages are dribble and empty of most meaning. In particular, texts have become dribble as they contain mostly LOL, SMH and word! Yet, at the same time, many text messages are being used to break news in particular because we are too busy to talk to each other.  What is a modern girl to do?

Pick up the phone to talk or text?  Depends on what’s your damage, heather.

Categories: Psychology

9 replies »

  1. Yeah, I’m bad. I’d rather email or text than telephone, except if it were an emergency, then I would pick up the phone (probably). My hubby gets mad at me sometimes asking why I don’t phone people, but it’s so much easier to email (or text sometimes) because you can get everything you want to say down in writing and don’t have to worry about “leaving a message”. Also, with email, you can cc (or bcc) – I have found this invaluable in some work correspondences. It’s harder for people to say that they “didn’t know” when they know damn well someone else got the same message.


  2. You also have to factor in other things. How much explaining is required? Do you use some tact or dish out the news harshly? How is this going to affect the reader? There’s just so many little things you have to consider when it comes to texting something important.


  3. I used to have an old, grandfathered-in mobile plan that didn’t allow texting, unless I paid through the nose for it. I still prefer to speak to someone instead of leaving voice messages. I recently upgraded to a newer plan which is costing me a little less than my old plan, and now I have unlimited texting and minutes. Hooray! I still don’t use the texting very much, but I discovered that the frustration I experienced in using the “keyboard” is gone. I don’t use the keyboard. I use the microphone. It’s great. I found you have to speak quickly, or else it “times out.”

    I had a great conversation with my daughter, using the text feature. Loved it.


  4. You remind me of one of my friend who always text or email instead of making a phone call. She said she’s even afraid of talking on the phone and too nervous to remember what she’s going to say. I think text or email do improve people‘s life, but actually exclude people from each other. Even though text is also a form of communication, it lack tone, emotional expression and time effectiveness compared to telephone and even face-to-face communication.


  5. Reblogged this on the written review and commented:
    I literally just had this conversation with my partner. I was explaining to him how easy communication via text is because it takes the pressure off having a face-to-face conversation as well. It gives you a chance to process the information and then chose how you want to respond. Quite often I find people are a lot more candour in text too. If you want a D&M sometimes you gotta break the news via text.


  6. As an old fart, I think texting is just too impersonal. It is, however, just about the only way I know of where I can be sure that my daughters will get a message from me.


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