Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Text And The City

I send texts. You send texts. We all send texts. Everyone's doing it. But are we doing it...wrong?

There is nothing quite so degrading as when you realize you're giving your phone the evil eye, waiting for it to ring after you send someone a text. I mean, for chrissake, it's an electronic lump of plastic, and here we're thinking giving it the look that would freeze hell over will galvanize someone miles away into action, manipulating them to reach for their similar hunk of plastic, and redeem all of human kind to us. We all know, I think, how often this actually happens. The opposite of what we'd like to happen happens more often than we'd all like.

Wow. Our expectations and misplaced steely stares are grossly over-sized. So, how do we learn how to text...better?

First, we need to recognize a fundamental fact to communication between the sexes: Women perceive their relationships better than men. A study done by Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed that after surveying 97 couples in the United States, women are more perceptive than men in describing their relationships. The study, which was published in ScienceDaily, reported that women were much more accurate in describing the perception of their partners than men. Sometimes this hurts more than it helps. This means that, technically, a woman texting should know the situation that she's getting into and the sense of decorum that it comes with. Is this always true? Fuck no. How many of you ladies have sent those texts that as soon as your thumb lifts off the "Send" button, you start cringing? I start shaking, myself. Like I have palsy. It is tres, tres attractive, I'm sure.

I really, and I mean really hate the phone. This should be apparent by now. Which is exactly why I've spent so much time and off-the-mark texts researching what the best ways to compose and send them are. And this is what I've found:

We all have options about the way we have text. There are easy options, ambivalent options, and leave no pris...I mean, hard options. Most texts are usually ambivalent options. If he says he's got other plans when you ask what he's up to tonight, you probably won't be heartbroken. The general variety "Hey, do you wanna go get a drink?" or "What are you up to now/later?" are ambivalent options. Ambivalent option texts are usually safe texts to send and receive because the sender generally wants little other than some sort of contact with another life form for the sake of feeling not so bored and there's not so much pressure. Unfortunately, these are the sort of texts least likely to get responded to. It happens, though it still really pisses me off, primarily because like stated, they generally aren't threatening texts at all, merely curious and mostly seeking beer or other forms of entertainment of a purely friendly kind, no ulterior motives. (Well, ok, I mean, everyone always has ulterior motives of one kind or another.)

But sometimes, you need to hardball. Sometimes, you need to put you first. Maybe you had plans you need to know are definite. Maybe you forgot the notebook with your calc notes in it at his place after spending the previous night, and you've got a test in 2 hours. Maybe you really need advice on a matter, and value their opinion nearly more than your mother's. This is when you hardball. You don't want to force a no-options text when you think you want to spend the night. That's like using The Force for evil. That's turning over to the Dark Side of being one of Those Girls. (Pink lightsabers are not good lightsabers, people.) Text "I have to get my _____. What time will you be home so I can get it?" No options. You're getting that _____. Today.

A "soft option" or "easy option" looks like an ambivalent text at the beginning. It usually starts with a "Hey, what are you up to?" or something equally breezy and conversational, then it gets to the point after the "Not much, what about you?" response. A "soft option" then gives a time limit and easy out for the recipient to say either "yes" or "no" to, no pressure. "Can you chat for 5 minutes?" DON'T use "talk." NEVER use the word "talk" in a text in the context of "Let's talk," or "I want to talk to you" or "We need to talk." This makes sirens go off, and if you seem overly seriously, it's another no-no. They'll run for the hills. Seriously. Always stay light and informal. Now is a good time to be delicate about asking for things. This makes it a "soft in," because there are good chances that you'll get that in for 5 minutes or an invite. The main difference between an ambivalent text and an easy option text is that an ambivalent text is very direct and to-the-point without being overly polite or seeming like you're asking for a favor, like an easy option text usually takes the form of. The point of an ambivalent text is that you really don't give a fuck, which you do with easy option texting-- which is why you're making it an easy option.

Some other rules of texting thumb and phone etiquette:

- Always ask yourself, what am I trying to communicate in this text? Is it clear? Can anything be misinterpreted? Unfortunately, the answer to this last question may still be "yes," but at least by now you've done your best.

- Keep the text to one point. Abbreviate what you can, without it looking like a 14 year old wrote it. Keep it classy, and abbreviate using shorthand. "With" becomes "w/." "Because" is "b/c" or "bc." "And" becomes my favorite symbol, "&." "At" is "@." And although I really hate it, and it's the last thing I abbreviate, and only then if I really can't help it, "you" can be "u." God. I feel so awkward and tweenage all over again. And unless you're texting your best friends, keep it to one text page at a time. Getting slammed with a consecutive 2 or 3 in a row is so overwhelming.

- If you want a text back, a good place to end is on asking a question. A pertinent question. People are more apt to respond back to questions, even if it is only with one or a few words.

- Sass is hard to pull off without sounding like a bitch unless the other person knows your humor as well as you do. Watch ya tone.

- Use a fresh opener that other people won't. A "ciao" means it's from me. Conversely, using a gender-bending opener like "Yo" or "Dude" is great for fending off the advances of men you think of sheerly platonically, or alternately if you want to make your guy friend feel more comfortable with the informal tone of your text.

- Only if you call and don't leave a voicemail message can you text a "voicemail message" instead. I actually suggest this, as it's clever because it means your name is seen twice, and if they didn't answer the call because it wasn't an appropriate time, I think we all know that by now, texting mid-conversation, or at least reading a text, is considered de rigueur. That means twice the chance that they'll know to get back to you.

But always remember-- when in doubt, and if it's important: Call.


1 comment:

  1. "Sass is hard to pull off without sounding like a bitch unless the other person knows your humor as well as you do. Watch ya tone."
    ---soooo true! loved it! you a killaaaa!