Hi Everyone,

I went to the dentist today, and rode up to the 25th floor in a crowded elevator in a busy Medical-Dental Building, and although texting is part of our everyday life now, and very convenient at times, I looked around the elevator, and realized that of the ten or so people in it with me, I was the only one not texting. Everyone was staring intently at their cell phones and texting away. Two missed their floors, no one made eye contact, and not a word was spoken. I’m not normally chatty to strangers in elevators, but often people exchange a nod, a smile, or occasionally even a “have a nice day”. But this time, there was only texting. It really made me think how texting has taken over our lives, and how completely. Personally, I’m not a big texter, but think it’s super convenient for short messages: “stuck in a meeting, will be half an hour late”, “please remember to pick up the dog”, “can you come to dinner tonight?”, “can you send me so and so’s phone number”, “flight delayed, will be at the hotel an hour late”, or even a quick “I love you, Mom”, if I know one of my kids is having a bad day. But when I think about it, I have not seen ANY of my children (5 of them in their 20’s) without their cell phones in their hands in recent years, and every face to face conversation I have with them, is interspersed or interrupted by a flurry of texts they send and receive while talking to me, or each other. Sometimes it’s impossible to catch or keep their attention. Whether my family, staff or friends, people talk to you now while texting. Are they paying attention? I’m never sure. Even during my staff meetings, my office staff text during the meeting. It’s not about manners (although sometimes it is), but more importantly we have grown accustomed to not focusing our full attention on anyone, and writing or reading messages to and from others at the same time. It’s like having two or more conversations at once. Which one are you really paying attention to? A man I was involved with romantically several years ago conducted most of our relationship by text, confronting major issues in abbreviation by text, with messages often so long they had to be sent in four or more segments. The relationship fell apart by text, ended several times by text, and once or twice was revived by text. It became surreal, a virtual relationship conducted by text. And I’ve heard from several young friends that some of their romances have started by text, and worse they got dumped by text, without even the courtesy of a face to face meeting and conversation.  What disturbs me is that we don’t even hear the sound of each others’ voices now, or the inflection of a voice (happy, sad, angry), it all comes through by text. And even if convenient, I think we have lost something important to technology with so little human contact.

There are worse tragedies as well, one of my daughters’ friends was killed in a car accident a year ago, because she was texting, slipped into another lane, and lost control of the car. Texting is even more dangerous on the road than talking on a cell phone, because while writing a text you’re not even looking at the road.

No question, it is convenient. I travel a lot, and am often in other time zones, so it allows you to send a short message to someone at a time convenient for you. But are we so impatient now that we can’t wait to call someone, that we can’t wait til we arrive somewhere to send a text, that we can’t sit through a meeting or a conversation without communicating with someone else? Is it a barrier against feelings and emotion, that people actually think it’s okay to dump someone by text (and I hear that often)? In a way, it’s a way of hiding, of not dealing directly, neither with the person you’re texting, nor the one you’re standing in front of, while texting someone else. In any restaurant, office, elevator, meeting, you see people texting constantly. Is this really who we are now, and who we want to be? It’s a little too space age high-tech for me. I am notoriously non techie and get teased a lot for it, I don’t even have a ‘smart’ phone, and use an old cell phone I like. But I think the whole philosophy about it is worth some thought. Are you talking to me, sending a message to your vet, hairdresser, or best friend, or ending your latest romance? I think we need to give texting a rest, use it more judiciously, and even look people in the eye while talking to them. It would be nice.  

love, danielle

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19 Comments so far
  1. Kerri J. April 23, 2013 2:22 pm

    Ms. Steel –

    Oh boy!!! You’re so spot-on with this blog post! I had a similar experience with Facebook recently in which a friend of mine overshared her personal problems and even posted an inappropriate photo of herself onto her page to the point where I had to remove her from my news feed. I’m sure the same applies to texting, as I have been guilty of oversharing myself via text and email. Your blog post on this subject reminds me of the movie WALL-E. The incident with my friend has forced me to reevaluate what I’m seeking in friendships and my own values as well.

    We all need to put down our smartphones and reconnect with each other. It’s becoming an addictive, not to mention destructive, behavior. I liken it to being on drugs. If this is where the future is heading, then I’d need to reconsider whether a relationship or having a family is really worth it if everybody are glued to their smartphones 24/7. There needs to be a return to common sense. Thank you for this post – everybody needs to be made aware of the erosion in human contact as a result of texting and overuse of social network.

  2. Lorraine April 23, 2013 4:54 pm

    Dear Danielle,

    I’m so glad someone in my age group feels this way. It is convenient, as you mentioned, but it’s also very annoying at times, and I often wonder how many meaningful conversations never took place because someone answered a text?
    Even on a popular t.v. series a few years ago, the woman had just been proposed to….seconds before……and answered a text????? I found that extremely unrealistic. I believe studies have been done how addictive this is: something about brain chemicals craving more and more of
    feeling good upon receiving a text. I’m actually glad my kids in their late 20s, early 30s, did know a time before cell phones existed in daily life. Many children out there never will. I’ve noticed with little kids, when they are with someone whose cell rings or texts, they don’t even look up. It’s just a normal noise for them. What’s next? Mental telepathy and no human contact at all?

  3. Elizabeth Humber April 23, 2013 6:34 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    I’m a huge fan of your books…have read all but 5, and they’ve been both entertaining and inspirational. I rarely leave comments anywhere, but I have to say I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU 100% on this Blog post of yours. (I also do not have a smart phone. My flip phone works just fine.) I think all the technology has taken the “personal” out of personal relationships, and that makes me sad.


  4. P.J. April 23, 2013 9:41 pm

    I think texting while in the presence of someone else is rude. In a staff meeting, you have every right to ask everyone to please turn off their phones until the meeting is ended.

  5. Abikoye Grace (AGAIT) April 25, 2013 6:35 am

    you re very right! I think texting is taking over our lives these days. I’m a nigerian nd many people here own a blackberry. I see people texting at bus stops, in commercial buses and even while driving. Unfortunately the introduction of social networks and electronic gadgets that have access to the internet is making things worse. I’m not allowed to browse on social networks because my siblings think it’s a complete waste of time and it’s addictive. Many students of this generation don’t do excellently well because they waste a lot of their time social networking instead of reading. I believe we have ‘gazillions’ of brilliant students on earth but texting and social networking reduces our potential.

  6. Cathy Mooney April 25, 2013 9:43 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I am a huge fan of yours and have every book you’ve ever written. I can imagine that for a writer, this trend of texting must be even more disturbing than to the rest of us who find it rude and annoying. As the Mother of five children, I agree it has its place. Letting me know they won’t be home that night or they’re bringing an extra for dinner is fine, but texting while we are HAVING dinner plain annoys me, as does texts that are filled with so many anagrams and short forms of the written word, they are illegible is not on! Good on you for speaking out! I for one, admire your thoughts.

  7. Cathy Mooney April 25, 2013 9:52 am

    PS…..in addition to my last post – I also find that bullying has gone up big time with texting, and romance has gone down. One of my daughters had to change her number because of threats and bullying and whilst its nice for my husband to send a sweet text, I’d rather a handwritten note with a flower or similar!! And to see my 10 year old grandchild with a mobile breaks my heart. Cathy

  8. SusanMarie April 26, 2013 7:16 am

    Oh my gosh – you have conveyed my thoughts EXACTLY!!! I do NOT have a smart phone for this reason – I do NOT want my life wrapped up in text messages!! It’s become an obsession – it’s like these people have grown a new “limb” and it’s their phones!!! CRAZY. They carry them like babies – look at them every 3 minutes. Do they really know how ridiculous they look? I just shake my head and feel so sorry for them – they are missing SO MUCH OF LIFE!
    Possibly you could write a book with this threaded through it – too much texting in life means they miss TOO MUCH of life itself!! Such a shame. And the children of today are being cheated of their parents’ time. Mom takes baby to park, yet sits on the bench texting or talking. So very sad.

  9. Cristina Eleno April 26, 2013 1:35 pm

    Estimada, soy una ferviente admiradora de tus obras. me resulta fantastica la lectura de todoos tus libros.

  10. Beth Cross April 26, 2013 10:34 pm

    My grandkids have their iphones attached to their hips. They constantly text, instagram & facebook. I still believe in handwritten letters to family & friends. I still have an old rotary phone which they got a kick of.

  11. Mary April 27, 2013 7:19 pm

    Texting causes people to not fully engage with each other. I see it everywhere in public, in private, during all activities, jobs,its invaded all we do. I think its hurting us all as much as we think we are connecting more, we are actually disconnecting. Emails are just as bad. They can even be used in court. All this information is saved somewhere and never goes away, like this blog, its not a conversation on a phone that once you hang up, its done or when you talk to someone it stays between the two of you. It has a life of its own. Its great we all can communicate more but the quality of that communication has to be questioned if it has made our lives better for the use of it. My experience with it I would like to see less of it, I personaly have been very hurt by the misuse of it and limit myself in how I use it.
    I just want to go read a book on the beach and enjoy a sunny day with out hearing a phone go off.

  12. Sharon Smith April 29, 2013 5:41 am

    It bothers me when I go out to eat with friends who invite me for lunch. And the whole time they are texting someone else. Why invite me when you rather talk to that other person. Come on now. Me I usually turn my phone off or put it on vibrate when I’m eating. When a person uses their phones to talk or text while eating in a dining area of a restraunt is really rude. I rather busy my hands to eat. LOL.

  13. Beth Cross April 30, 2013 11:16 am

    I agree with you 100%. I see my grandchildren with their phones constantly texting. Its too bad that this is a way of life now. Where is the way of life we looked forward to actually talking face to face?

  14. mike reid May 3, 2013 5:45 pm

    Hi Danny – I agree – I think most people should give it a rest for a month – I took texting off my plan along time ago – I’m not a big fan of texting – although I used to do alot of emails awhile back. Lately its just been meetings & Old James Bond Movies – hahaha. How have you been doing? Did your daughter find a new place after the storm? I was thinking about that because she was misplaced due to the storm like alot of people. The 50 & Counting Tour (Rolling Stones) is coming to LasVegas MGM on may 11th.I was thinking about how time flys so fast. I never have seen them live. Anyway – more later – God Bless

  15. E.R. May 10, 2013 7:00 am

    Dear Danielle,
    I’m only twelve and I am a big fan of your books! I’ve read about five of them so far and I am currently reading “His Bright Light” ! I love it so much and it is such an inspirational story! Thank you for being such a great inspirational woman! Best wishes for you! <3

  16. Brandon Carson May 18, 2013 5:55 pm

    It’s a phenomenon often referred to as “continuous partial attention”. It is fueled by “always-on” access to devices that enable constant communication. We all know that humans have an incessant need to communicate and out mobile devices now allow us to always be available, but never present.

    At your next house party, ask your guests to place their devices in the middle of the dinner table. Anyone who reaches for their device suffers a penalty! You’ll have some pained expressions on their faces when they realize they can’t use their device… But you will gain their presence for a couple of hours!

  17. CAROL OLIVER May 25, 2013 10:18 am

    wow….you my friend are right on this time.
    Everything that was said in all comments. We are the same age…or you will be soon..and I am so with you on this. I love my flip phone, and it serves the purpose, and its a cast offof one of my Grandkids..17..I text about as little as you…it does come in handy for quickies some time…that’s it. My phone is off at home, they can call my house phone…my granddaughter…going on 12…has an IPad…and an Iphone already. Everything you have noticedwith people and family on phones and texting surrounds me as well…oh boy…I am happy that I am NOT a Techie….thanks Danielle..very good. Ok, have read and collected ALL your books..saved Family Album for last. I only need your new book…End of Time..to read and save…but still figuring out how I might obtain the Book of Poems, and the childrens books…never see them in Antique Stores…Have a good day…

  18. sezen June 7, 2013 10:29 am

    Helena Paparizou 950trilyonu yurtdışındaki merkez bankasından Türkiye’deki Vakıf bankasına ne zaman gönderecek bunu merak ediyorum.

  19. Nick April 14, 2014 4:42 am

    Yeah, you’re supposed to turn your keaiits off when you’re sitting in the priority seats. Something about potentially causing heart attacks for people who have pacemakers. Most of the time people just ignore the signs and text away and then the train marshall get to fulfill his one real duty of telling people to stop using their phones. My friends and I notice that if there are 5 people in the train car using their phones around the priority seat, we’re the ones who get busted.