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Constant texting is problematic

It's troublesome to more than your weary thumbs.

I was at a holiday gathering the other day, and my sixteen-year-old cousin was texting underneath the table. Her mom and dad repeatedly told her to stop--they said it was like being at home at the dinner table--but she wouldn't. She acted like her social world would stop revolving if she didn't send a text back to one of the popular girls at her high school.

It probably would have.

In the eight years since I was sixteen, texting expectation has drastically increased. Texting only started becoming popular when I was a senior in 2006, and back then, it was a novelty, not an actual form of required communication. According to my cousin, she texts around one-hundred times a day, a moderate number in comparison with her peers. Many high school students say that they text more than 500 times a day, acting like this exorbitant numbers was no thang.

I don't want to push the blame for the American obsession with texting onto the shoulder's of teenagers. We've all seen the mad grab for cell phones after hour-long plane flights, their owners scrambling to re-connect with those long-lost friends and family members. My friends prefer to make plans over text message because of ease of constant communication. Personally, I avoid eye contact with strangers on the street by holding my phone in front of my face and texting.

I don't believe this obsession with texting ain't no thang. In the past few years, this reliance on constant connectedness has changed the way that we interact with friends, illustrate our professionalism at work and disengage with the outside world.

We can carry on pseudo-conversations with friends for hours and hours while focusing the majority of our attentions on other things. Friendships are often sidelined in the moment; we choose instead to pay attention to work, or, as I've often seen, text other friends while interacting with one in person.

In business settings, texting may still be uncommon, but the habits of constantly checking for new email messages--usually on some sort of handheld device--has become ingrained. Reasonable response time has diminished hugely, making conscientious repliers seem slow and lazy.

It also seems that we want to leave the world in front of our faces behind whenever we can. We text friends during cool events, take pictures rather than looking at nature and post Facebook status updates detailing events while we are participating in the events.

Will I stop texting? No, I don't want to be a social pariah.