The Never-Ending Text Message Pile-Up

If you forgot your phone at home, would you come back again to get it back? Of course you will! Now, if you forgot your wallet at home, would you ever come back to retrieve it? Probably. In other words, while we can survive without our wallets, we cannot survive without our phones.

Much research has been devoted to the current generation’s increasing dependence on phones. Telecoms entrepreneur Arlene Harris states forcefully in a recent article that “There are more cell phones in use today than there are people, but a measure of quantity alone underestimates the importance of the cell phone to those who depend on it.” In other words, while the sheer number of phones in this world is awesome, what’s even more surprising is the level of influence these devices have.

Phones are used for just about everything and have basically become an extension of our bodies. They tell us when to wake up and when to go to bed, remind us of our doctors’ appointments, deposit checks and provide us with countless forms of entertainment. Cell phones have revolutionized many aspects of society. Health apps have brought medical care to previously inaccessible places, and navigation apps have allowed us to travel farther, safely and more efficiently than ever before. The mobile phone revolution has played a role in judicial decisions. In an article written by Sarah Jeong, she discussed how in the 2014 Supreme Court case Riley v. California, Chief Justice John Roberts identified phones as an integral part of human existence, a decision that has already affected many areas of legislation.

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So it’s not surprising that this reliance on phones leads to an endless list of unread messages. In Joanna Stern’s article “Sorry I Missed Your Text: Messaging is the New Email”, she states that “Messaging apps are no longer just a place for friends and family. They’re now also where we sync with class parents, work contacts and all the expected attendees at the event. Upcoming family reunion. While in the past companies and organizations sent unsolicited messages to our email addresses, now it reaches us via text messages more often. Stern attributes this to “everyone Wants[ing] to meet us where we are most engaged and responsive.” Even YU falls into this category. While in the past, announcements about events might have been limited to emails, now there are many group chats for all different purposes including Jewish events, clubs, speakers, and more.

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Almost every time I pick up my phone, I find myself lost in a sea of ​​WhatsApp messages from random group chats. Sometimes I feel like if I’m away from my phone for an extended period of time, I need to spend a similar amount of time catching up on my unread messages. The overwhelming amount of ads and club group chats prevent one from finding the most important messages from friends and family.

Feeling the need to catch up on messages or seeing tons of emails can be very overwhelming and stressful. However, there are ways to manage constant cell phone notifications while we are still fully active in our lives. To better separate work and family, Stern suggests moving some messages to your company email address, allowing you to keep your messaging apps almost exclusively personal. Plus, if you’re not quite interested in doing what’s calling you, feel free to exit the chat or unsubscribe. As Stern points out, “We cannot engage and respond if we cannot sort out the important from the unimportant.” Likewise, if you rarely read any of the messages from a group chat, maybe think again before joining. Finally, to limit your long list of texts, you can set aside certain times during the day to catch up or make sure you answer them all before bed.
Since we live in an era that relies heavily on technology, it is crucial that we actively identify the role our phones play in our lives. Coping with the never ending text messages that many of us have can be daunting. However, by taking time to respond, separating the important from the unimportant and not hesitating to walk away from conversations, we move away from a state of constant tension to a state of full attention to the most important things in life.

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