By Christine Yoo MS, LCPC
Texting has become extremely common with members of all generations, but the way “digital natives” (those who have grown up with the technology) have embraced it calls for questions of how this different form of communicating might be changing the way that we relate to one another on a fundamental level. Some research has shown that one’s use of texting is simply in keeping with what was already there in regards to how one communicates with others. In terms of romantic relationships, those who text to the exclusion of voice calls show fewer positive relationship qualities than those who both text and call (Jin & Pena, 2010). Whether the technology creates more distance or that its use is a symptom of the pre-existing communication style is a chicken or egg question.
For many, texting becomes a running dialogue between people that goes on without end. “Goodnight,” at the end of the day is never spoken since the conversation picks up right away in the morning. This allows for constant communication and therefore a sense of never being alone so long as the relationship lasts. What is lost then is one’s comfort with being by themselves. When a relationship with that level of constant communication ends, it is that much more difficult to tolerate. The ending of a relationship between adolescents a generation ago, where the contact might have been at school, on the weekends and by phone for a half hour each night, might have been painful. The ending of such a relationship now, with constant communication has a greater potential to leave a deep loneliness. As Psychologist Sherry Turkle, states in her book, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” (Basic Books, 2012). “If you don’t have a capacity for solitude, you will always be lonely”