People text more than they talk – a decade of changes

People text more than they talk.  At least according to  

People text more than they talk - a decade of changes is article #6 in the series: Ten years of life changes. Click button to view titles for entire series

People text more than they talkTo that end, here’s what had to say about people texting more than talking.

As a way to cut costs, some companies no longer provide voicemail as an option for their employees, especially if they don’t interact directly with clients. The move has proven popular, perhaps unsurprisingly. People, especially millennials, rarely talk on the phone anymore. A 2014 Gallup poll found that text messages outrank phone calls as the main means of communication for people under 50.

Do people really text more than they talk?

If we are to believe some commercials, they do.  You may have seen the one where a group of guys is trying to figure out where to eat.  You assume they’re all in different places.  Deciding where to meet.  But as the camera pans out from one of them, you see they’re all in the same room.  Texting. Each other.

It’s funny.  So funny, after seeing it many times, I still don’t remember what they’re selling.  But I wonder.  Are the two people in the picture at the top texting each other?  Have we really gone so far from personal contact that we text each other when we’re close enough to read each other’s phones?

I hope not.

Does it matter?

People, especially millennials, rarely talk on the phone anymore. A 2014 Gallup poll found that text messages outrank phone calls as the main means of communication for people under 50.

I’m over 50.  I’ve never liked talking on the phone.  Ever.  So maybe I was ahead of my time.  However, texting isn’t necessarily my preference either.  For short stuff – sure.  If I want a record of what’s going on – no.  Email is the way to go.  However, for personal matters, no amount of emojis will make up for face-to-face conversation.

Does texting more than talking lead us away from God?

That depends.  If it’s about getting together with other Christians, no – it doesn’t matter.  In fact, it can help.  After all, getting together is hard.  And it’s been hard for at least 2,000 years.

A Call to Persevere

Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Yeah – that’s during the period of the early church.  Followers of Jesus were already getting in the habit of not meeting.  So texting is one way of actually arranging more opportunities to meet face-to-face.  More texting can lead to even more talking.

So texting can have its place.  And the comparison from is between people using the phone to text, as opposed to talking over the phone and possibly leaving voice mail messages.  

Texting, talking and face-to-face meeting

Ultimately, for the purpose of getting together to meet face-to-face, texting is probably preferable to talking on the phone.  It’s got immediate feedback.  And can reach multiple people at the same time.  Group texting and group responding.  Try that with phone calls and voice mail when someone’s not available.

However, face-to-face communication is ultimately the most important thing for Christians.    For instance, why do you think the author of Hebrews wrote, Let us not give up meeting together?  Of course, it was related to what followed – let us encourage one another.

But let me also ask – how easy is it to encourage someone when you can’t see their face?  Their eyes?  Reactions to something that was said?  Words that are more mouthed or whispered than spoken out loud?  It’s a whole lot harder talking over the phone.  It’s even harder while texting.   

Someone can type any emoji they want.  It doesn’t have to represent the way they feel.  It’s a whole lot harder for most of us to fake expressions when people are watching. 

And that’s important.  After all, how many times do we read something like this –

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

2:3-12 pp — Mt 9:2-8; Lk 5:18-26

Mk 2:1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mk 2:6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Mk 2:8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Face-to-face meeting – better than texting or talking on the phone

Notice something Jesus did in that passage.  Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts.  We can’t do that.  However, we might be able to see something if it’s face-to-face communication.  Like I said – lots of changes in facial expressions can’t be hidden by most of us.  Changes we’d never find out about while texting.  Or talking on the phone.  Or voice mail.

And when we’re talking someone’s soul, don’t we want to have the best possible chance to encourage them.

More on face-to-face communication over texting and talking on the phone

For a final look at why meeting in person is important, let’s look at something Paul wrote to Timothy.

Just imagine trying to participate in a group of people whose goal s to do even a few of those things.  Even more so, imagine being the leader of the group.  Trying to figure out whether people are understanding your message.  Are they with it?  Are they lost?  Maybe even bored half to death?  Someone’s trying to get a question in, but too many others are talking and they’re holding back?

I can’t imagine leading the group I have on Sunday mornings without being able to see their faces.  Even other motions that might mean they have a question. 

We use a combination of texting and emailing – no voice calls – to confirm that we’re meeting, someone saying they’ll be late or can’t make it.  Stuff like that.  And we do have an awesome note taker when someone’s not present.  But there’s just no substitute for actually being there.

Conclusion – People text more than they talk

Sure – text message other Christians.  Even for quick words of encouragement.  Phone if you want.  But when it comes right down to doing the kinds of things they did in the early church, there’s nothing better than face-to-face meetings.

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay


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