My 3-year-old told my husband the other day to send me a text message. She intuitively understood that I prefer to see his words on my screen than hear his voice. Texts are discreet. Texts are pithy.
A sampling of marital chatter: “Still at playground;” “Detergent finished;” and regrettably, “Working much longer?”
Texts avoid conflict. He could have picked up the phone and yelled: “Maybe if you weren’t working all the time you could remember to buy some laundry detergent.”
Apparently I am not alone. Nearly three out of four Americans send text messages on the phone and among those who do, 31 percent prefer texting to talking, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center.
Those numbers are even more pronounced for younger people. Cellphone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 send or receive an average of 109.5 messages daily. The rest of us on average exchange 41.5 messages daily, Pew found.
The poor text more often than the rich. According to the survey, conducted on the phone with 2,277 adults, those with incomes of under $30,000 exchanged nearly 57 messages on average each day, while those earning over $75,000 exchanged 32 messages on average.
A separate Pew Center study earlier this summer documented how vital our cellphones had become. Among those who owned cellphones, 42 percent said they used their device to stave off boredom and 13 percent pretended to be occupied with their phones to stave off unwanted attention from others.
And what’s happened to voice? It turns out that 53 percent of Americans still prefer to talk to one another on their phones.
Maybe I should call my husband today and say hello. He’ll be so surprised he’ll go out and buy the detergent himself.