Saturday, July 12, 2008

Let's Talk About Text, Baby!

Thanks to a popular little YouTube song, many of us have heard the phrase, "you don't text message breakup!" But what about everything else you should or shouldn't do via texting...
Text messaging has become a huge part of my daily routine, and it seems to be the same with everyone I know. I used to text once in awhile just to convey the simplest of messages, but it has morphed into something so much bigger! And I'm not sure I like it.

When it comes to socializing and dating it's all about communication and communication can happen on many different levels; however, due to our constantly (and rapidly) evolving technology our means of communication keep expanding.

What we're workin' with:
-There's straight up talking; something that can be unpredictable and hard to control, but also spontaneous and natural. Talking seems to be pretty honest because in person and there's also body language to take into account. When talking over the phone there's rhythm, tone and inflection to listen for. All of these factors tell us more than the words alone.

-With letter writing we have a chance to collect our thoughts and be a little more selective with what we want to convey. And as a letter recipient you can look at the handwriting for more clues into the meaning. E-mail can seem slightly less personal but is used ALL the time for little updates, work, invites, and keeping up with family and friends.

-Now we're getting down to the other forms of social networking that take place online; we have facebook and myspace, online chatting, blogging and a million other ways to express ourselves to the world and to our friends. With these methods there's a lot of control over how you choose to present yourself. Creativity can be involved but the appeal seems to be in the speed of it and in the fact that many of us spend hours and hours at a computer every day. Since we aren't always out and about meeting new people or hanging with our friends in person we can talk to each other, look at each other, learn about each other and and build relationships that we may not otherwise have time to build...hmm, this is where I start to feel a little weird. But here I am blogging, so on I go...

-What I'm talkin' about: The Text Message.
It's fast and frequent because we have our cellphones with us at all times. It can be silent and unobtrusive so you can do it in almost any environment. It's ambiguous and due to the limited word count it forces us to be concise.

So, about a year ago I started (sort of dating) this guy who was just text-happy! It started off as playful banter, flirting and plan-making, but as time passed I realized it wasn't just something we did when we were busy. Other than sex, it became the basis for our entire relationship. Now, trust me, there are many other factors to this particular story and I certainly wouldn't call it a healthy relationship in any way, but it's a relationship nonetheless, and as much as I hate admitting it, our dialogue is mainly through texting!

At first I was just going along with it because that's all he seemed to know, and I didn't even really become aware of what a big deal it was until I found myself wanting to lie to my therapist. When recalling some recent drama between us I was doing the old, "he said this, and I said this", and she stopped to ask me (in her lilting therapy voice), "was that in person, or over the phone?". Ha! "Um...", I just felt so stupid telling her it was through texting! This is when I realized it might be getting extreme.

One of my close friends has also been involved in some texting relationships, but she uses it as part of "the game". It reminds us of chess, you're always planning your next move. Choose your words carefully and fill it with as much meaning as possible, wait a long time to respond if you want to build up tension, but don't wait too long or the textee might get mad! Even text interpreting can drive a person crazy because sometimes there's no way to know the tone. It's too easy to waste hours digging for meaning in some stupid message. You know you've done it.

Yesterday I received a long e-mail from a lifelong friend asking for relationship advice. She went into detail about everything that's been going on with her and her man and in the final paragraph, in the middle of "what do you think? Should I fucking rip out of this one?", she changed gears and said, "He just texted me- JUST NOW so I have to tell you. First though, let me explain that fucking dealing with a relationship in text is so fucking retarted and juvenile. The text says: 'Do u think we are getting 2 normal?' Is that the problem?"

Girl, I have SO been there! So what is this!? It's not just me, it's happening everywhere and how do we deal with this issue? Is it a problem? Or do we need to adapt to this new text-filled reality? I think we can all agree that "you don't text message breakup", but do you text message process? Text message converse? Carry on text message relationships?

Hi, my name is ______ and I'm addicted to texting.