I came across a 2009 study released by the PEW Internet Project that found 66% of American mobile subscribers between the ages of 30-49 use text messaging. Use of texting as the primary method of communication is growing in popularity in every age group under 45. Last summer Nielson Mobile Research reported that a typical mobile user sent 357 text messages per month, but made or received only 204 phone calls.
What I don’t get about texting is why people want to spend 3 minutes hunting, pecking and struggling to send a text when they could make a 30 second call and be done with it?
I don’t stand alone in my way of thinking! I’ve found that texting is generally seen as a nuisance for people over the age of 40. For one thing, most of us have fingers that are NOT bony. Those little tiny buttons on the cell phones are ridiculously small. Plus, many of us have to find our reading glasses so we can even SEE the damn keyboard anyway!Women have the extra challenge of long and/or fake fingernails. Glamourous, sexy, make your hands look great. However, they have absolutely no traction on those little tiny plastic buttons on a cell phone keypad.
So then why is there so much hesitation when it comes to picking up the phone? Has texting become the newest addition to the list of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?”
I believe the growing preference for texting has a lot to do with its impersonal nature. It’s much easier to launch a new relationship by exchanging texts than it is to talk. It’s also very easy to say and do things over a screen that one would never have the nerve to do face to face (or say ear to ear). That would make things easier I suppose, but it also creates new problems. A large part of communication is non-verbal. When texting, the other party cannot receive those fine nuances of communication such as tone of voice, held back giggles, excited breathing, or body language that demonstrates anxiety, happiness or growing irritation
Texting it seems, is here to stay, but there needs to be some rules in place. After listening to dozens of complaints from friends, coworkers, and family about their relationships and texting, I came up with “Deborrah’s 10 Texting Rules For Dating Singles.”
#1 Do Share Updates or Ask for Simple Instructions. On your way but missed your train? Texting to update your date on your revised arrival time is a considerate thing to do. On your way to the store and can’t remember what you are supposed to pick up for dinner at her place? Receiving a texted shopping list can be a life and relationship saver! Had a great first date? Texting the day after to say, “Wow, I had a really great time with you!” is a low key, no pressure way to express appreciation for someone’s time.
#2 Never, EVER Text While on a Date. You’d think everyone would know this already, but I guess common sense ain’t real common! Texting while in a face-to-face conversation is just as rude as blabbing away on a call. If you’re on a date and you want to see that person again, don’t sit there texting (or Twittering) the whole time, or part of the time, or even at all. That includes your best friend trying to sneakily find out how things are going, the Masters of Electronically Transmitted Whining (the kids), or an angry ex who saw you and your date in the restaurant parking lot. Manners and courtesy must reign supreme.
#3 Texts Should Never Replace Real Conversation. Texting is only for transmitting unimportant information or short and simple messages, not an in-depth conversation. More than four texts in a row… it’s time to pick up the phone. Middle aged fingers and hands cramp easily, okay!? Oh, and if you notice that you are having most of your relationship via texting, you need to move things along to the face to face level or just end it. Like I said, the inherently impersonal nature of texting allows someone to “keep in touch” and keep fantasies of a relationship alive, but maintain emotional distance by never spending time with you. I’ve known guys to do a cut and paste type of thing and send the same text to a dozen women at almost the same time. It’s a time-saving way to cast a wide net and see who will let him come over for sex. Women should not make it so easy to be used for uncommitted booty calls.
#4 Does Anyone Care But You? Do not send text after text describing your every move, every conversation, or every thought. The fact that your coworker was late for the 10th time this month is of no importance to anyone but you. Get it? Unless what you are texting involves the recipient in some manner, and is very urgent (or at least a funny joke to break up our day), then don’t send a text.
#5 Do Not Send Compromising Photos. Are people these days crazy? What in the world is going on with this “sexting” stuff? Why do males think it appropriate to send penis pictures to random women they aren’t intimate with and sometimes don’t even know? Why would females send pictures of naked body parts (including their genitalia) over cell phones? Young ladies, not only is such behavior classless, it’s ridiculously dangerous. And if the sender or receiver of a sexually oriented text is a minor, it’s also illegal.
The long-term repercussions of this type of loose attitude about one’s body has concerned me for a long time. Women are likely to be humiliated to discover that they are the brunt of jokes, as guys will often share the sexy texts they get from random women with their buddies and have a good laugh. You’ll then be labeled, and it won’t be flattering. Think before you act.
#6 If You’ve Been Drinking, Back Away From the Keypad! People will say and do things with firewater in their systems that they would NEVER do if sober. What types of things have I heard you ask? Sexual invitations to people known to have no interest, fights from months ago renewed with vigor due to unresolved anger, personal questions asked and personal information volunteered in a straight bonehead move. Liquid courage does that to people! Though alcohol doesn’t put ideas into our heads, a little booze definitely relaxes the constraints we have in place on our mouths and evidently our fingers. So, if you’ve been to happy hour(s), or had a few martini’s at home, do not send anyone a text. Your texting privileges are revoked until you are 100% sober.
Also important to remember is that some folks don’t do well with breakups and their vindictiveness spews forth like an erupting volcano. Your photos or videos could end up anywhere on the Internet, in a magazine, movie, or in a photo composite with someone else’s body doing something awful, topped off by YOUR FACE.
#7 Don’t Expect Instant Gratification. Do not get upset if you don’t get a reply back within seconds of sending a text. People over the age of 25 usually have full-time jobs, families, and things to do that involve their hands, including cooking, typing, and driving. They’ll return your communication with a text or a phone call when they can and only if they want to. Texting is sometimes used as a tool to avoid honesty; with texting you can respond if and when you feel like it. You can measure your words and provide half answers… you can even pick and choose which questions to answer. One should also remember that technology is great, but not perfect. I’ve sent texts that didn’t arrive at their destination for 45 minutes to several hours! I’ve also had the same problem with receiving transmissions sent to me by others.
#8 Always Be Aware of Your “Tone of Voice” and Communication Style.It’s difficult to discern the sender’s tone in text messages, just as it is in e-mail. What may be meant as humorous sarcasm, or a completely innocuous message to you may be easily misinterpreted by the recipient of your text. Such miscommunication can cause hurt feelings and unnecessary tension, and require an unbelievable amount of apologizing and explaining to fix. In some instances it will cost you the relationship. Watch the shorthand and acronyms as well. Not everyone is up on the textn lingo neway, and yr msg may leave sum1 scratching their head in confusion sayn L8tr4u vs ROFLMBAO.
#9 Asking for Dates by Text is a No-No. Texting to set-up a date is bogus! Have the courage to speak up and risk rejection like a big boy or girl. Yeah, I know you’re a recent returnee to the dating scene, talking to someone you don’t know well feels awkward, and asking for a date when you might hear “no!” is scary. But one of the top qualities singles seek is a confident partner that goes after what he or she wants. Confident, secure people have an air about them that is very sexy… passive, hesitant, insecure people do not. Plus, no one ever died from being turned down for a date.
#10 Do Not Break It Off By Text. Neither do you use Twitter, Facebook, AIM, My Space, messenger, email or fax. Use of any form of informal, emotionally disconnected electronic communication to dump someone is chickenshit, immature and weak. If you opt to treat other people in such a way, don’t be surprised when your text is put on blast and ends up on Twitter, Facebook, My Space and every message forum in the world. Be an adult whydon’tcha, and tell people via phone (at least) that you two are not a match and you’re moving on.
Text messaging isn’t necessarily a tool of the devil, but there can be quite a bit of misinterpretation and miscommunication if not used correctly. Texting is a great way to stay connected to someone you are madly in love with, and a useful tool to touch base with casual or new dating partners. However, texting is not and never will be a replacement for a heart-felt telephone conversation full of sighs and laughter.
Utilizing the 10 texting rules set out above will allow you to enjoy the fun and flirty aspects of date texting, and help you avoid the minefields!
originally published June 19, 2009
Category: Date Smarter, Not Harder