Everywhere you look, people are bent over their tiny screens—checking Instagram, sending emails, and texting their friends and family. And while texting is a great way to get in touch quickly, it does come with consequences: shorter attention spans, poorer relationship quality, and really bad posture. When is the last time you had a long, meaningful conversation on the phone? If it’s taking you a while to remember, then maybe you should take the pledge to participate in No Text Weekend, a weekend-long event happening everywhere from September 23-25. Founders and sketch comedians Allison Goldberg and Jen Jamula want you to “choose forks over phones at dinner” and call your grandma.
Goldberg and Jamula met at Yale University, and now are the producers of sketch comedy show Blogologues, a mashup of “blog” and “monologue,” that stages live, dramatic performances based on verbatim Internet conversations (think: boastful Facebook statuses reimagined as musical numbers). The pair has always been fascinated by new media’s influence on relationships, and last May, the idea for No Text Weekend was born.
“We have a friend who literally walked into scaffolding because he was too busy texting,” says Jamula. “His doctor told him his injury was not uncommon. This is not a joke. So the idea for No Text Weekend happened organically. We were tired of texting. We missed talking and wanted to do it more and better.”
No Text Weekend comes with a caveat—Jamula and Goldberg aren’t asking users to abandon their phones entirely, or undergo a “digital detox.” They only want people to talk instead of text—to use real facial expressions instead of emojis. The two have seen firsthand how text messages can alter their relationships, so they think a mini break will be refreshing.
“I’ve seen how texting affects my friendships,” says Goldberg. “I’ll write something nonchalant and quick because I’m at work, and next thing I know, someone is mad at me.”
And of course, the onset of Internet dating and dating apps has changed the way we enter relationships, as well as maintain them.
“Texting has stoked my insecurity in most new relationships,” says Jamula. “If we share too little by text, I assume he’s not interested. If we share too much, I feel odd when we are together in person.”
To participate in No Text Weekend, you can simply take the online pledge and ditch your iMessage app, but you can also take it a step further. The two have compiled several resources on their site to be used in classrooms or at dinner parties (a.k.a. conversation starters so you don’t use your phone as a crutch). For those in NYC, there are many events going on throughout the weekend—check out the calendar for the event that most interests you. They’ve asked performance poets The Haiku Guys to attend several weekend events and turn texts and selfies into poetry on the spot.
For those who “don’t think they can do it,” Jamula suggests: “Plan a nature day or explore a new place. Do things that mean something to you so you’re not searching for a distraction.”
But of course, Jamula and Goldberg aren’t perfect. When asked the longest they’ve ever gone without texting, Goldberg said: “Three minutes.”
To learn more and take the pledge, visit notextweekend.com.