Click click click — music to my ears. As my ring tone plays, my trembling fingers reach out, longing to fulfill their appetite for the day. The desire to communicate my latest news or complaints to a friend is a driving force that fuels what is now an effortless habit. I’m willing to stand up and say, “I’m Sol, and I’m a text-a-holic.”
Four years ago, when I got my first cell phone, I was ecstatic to finally have a phone that no one else would answer, with all my friends’ numbers ready to scroll. Unfortunately, I had to share a family plan with few minutes and — the bane of all teens’ existences — limited texts.
And did they mean limited! Only 250 texts per month — not per day or even hour! So of course, for the first four months, I overshot my limit by the hundreds. Tired of having to pay extra on every bill, my parents finally decided to upgrade to unlimited texts, allowing me to succumb to my growing desire to text, no longer chained by the shackles of the Verizon company. Thrilled, I automatically texted all my friends the good news. Within only the first week, I sent 1,000 texts. Keep in mind that according to a CNN Tech article, teenagers on average send 3,339 texts per month. To be more precise, according to the article, females send 4,050 texts per month, while males send an average of 2,539 texts. Those statistics reassure me — if not my parents — that I’m a normal teenage girl.
As time went by, it became a ritual to text every minute of the day — no matter what. My phone became attached to my hand in class, at parties, while watching House, eating at Five Happiness Restaurant and even when I was ready to go to sleep. It was always within arms reach, even when I was in the shower, although it wasn’t water-proof.
Unfortunately, I soon discovered the consequences of being a text addict. My family began to get annoyed at my lack of conversation. I found myself struggling to reply to their “So what did you do today?” — distracted by the tiny tapping sounds. I was willing to do anything to fulfill my need to text, even going so far as to not hang out with my older cousins to watch the movie Easy A.
It was time for a change. I had let my bad habit of texting manifest itself into an addiction. Attempting to control myself, I tried hiding my cell for a day, leaving it in the garage where I would hopefully forget it as I got busy. It didn’t work; somehow my cell felt like a missing limb, causing me to feel “ghost vibrations.” If carrying my phone, just one quick glance to see who had
texted would distract me from my valiant goal.
After multiple backsliding moments, I finally got the idea of giving my charger to a friend, and letting my phone die. As it ran out of battery, I began to feel uneasy, going through the five stages of grief. I denied to everyone that I had a problem, became angry that I couldn’t fight the urge to pick up my phone, and decided to bargain with myself that I could text two to ten people and it would be okay, feeling detached from the world without my phone in my hand. But trying to keep myself from yearning for my phone, I finally accepted that I needed to stop texting so much.
After I became more conscious of my actions and acknowledged my addiction, it was easier to put my cell down. I couldn’t stop “cold turkey” — it would be too much to bear — instead I began to let my phone die or left it in my bag more often. From sending over 1,200 texts a week to only two to three thousand a month is what I consider a huge accomplishment.
Although my addiction isn’t as unhealthy as an addiction to alcohol, it has been a hard habit to break. Even now that I’m doing college applications, I find myself resisting the urge to reply to my friend’s urgent “guess what?” I even struggled with my five fingers typing this column as I’m more used to using my thumbs.
A version of this article first appeared in the Jan. 28, 2011 print edition of The Lowell.