Life has a long list of things that can induce anxiety. Depending on the situation, it may include job interviews and first dates. Sometimes, trying out a new recipe or rushing to work can be stressful. However, these scenarios are all normal parts of life, so they should come as no surprise. But what about texting, one of the major ways we communicate?
Say hello to the dreaded text bubble. It seems trivial, but think about how much weight it holds for such a tiny image. You’re probably getting stressed just thinking about it.
It All Starts With Smartphone Addiction
Smartphones already bring on a lot of anxiety by themselves. They enhance the fear of missing out, a concept nicknamed “FOMO.” Excessive smartphone use has also shown links to low self-esteem, stress, and depression. Ultimately, the smartphone addiction is very real. This type of behavioral addiction affects 8.5% of Americans, most of them in their teens and 20s. Adults in their 30s and 40s are less affected, suggesting that it’ll become a bigger problem for future generations.1 2
Troubles Behind Text Bubbles
A bubble indicates that the other person is typing a response. On Facebook, the equivalent is “[name here] is typing…” The mediums might be different, but there’s actually a lot in common.
1. Awareness Increases
If it wasn’t for the text bubble, you wouldn’t know that someone is in the process of responding. It brings attention to the incoming response! One might compare it to an extremely dramatic pause in a face-to-face personal discussion.
As you’re expecting a reply, anticipation will increase. What will they say? Or rather not say? What if the text bubble suddenly stops, leaving you with a digital cliffhanger? For serious conversations, anticipation can be especially strong.
3. Pressure Grows
Both sides can feel a lot of pressure. When typing a response, knowing that the other person is expecting something doesn’t always feel lightweight. And if you’re the one waiting for an answer? That anticipation can easily turn into pressure, creating countless opportunities for miscommunication.
How To Avoid Text Bubble Anxiety
Essentially, text bubbles place a lot of weight on a conversation, no matter how big or small. If it disappears, you might think that the person is ignoring you. It’s easy to feel offended! But maybe they got distracted or received a call. Or maybe they’re actually dodging the conversation, something that’s never easy to swallow.
If possible, make a call instead of texting. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to an in-person conversation. This way, replies can be prompt, especially if the discussion is serious.
2. Distract Yourself
After hitting “send,” let the other person do the rest of the work. Put down your phone and do something else. Sitting by the phone will induce anxiety, so keep yourself busy.
3. Turn Off Your Phone
Every now and then, shut off your phone. Yes, seriously! By doing so, you’ll control the habit of checking it every two seconds. It’s a great way to free your mind, especially if you have important tasks to do.
Do not burden yourself with the need to get an instant reply to a text. It increases your anxiety and does not allow you to focus on anything else in your life.
|↑1||Wolniewicz, Claire A., Mojisola F. Tiamiyu, Justin W. Weeks, and Jon D. Elhai. “Problematic smartphone use and relations with negative affect, fear of missing out, and fear of negative and positive evaluation.” Psychiatry research (2017).|
|↑2||Elhai, Jon D., Robert D. Dvorak, Jason C. Levine, and Brian J. Hall. “Problematic smartphone use: A conceptual overview and systematic review of relations with anxiety and depression psychopathology.” Journal of affective disorders 207 (2017): 251-259.|