Everyone who regularly uses their phone knows what I’m talking about. The simple medium that used to be used for basic things like meeting up or notifying someone of your whereabouts has turned into a whole new system we’re left trying to decode: The Texting Game.
Just like all the other mediums that have come along and developed into communication powerhouses, I don’t think many people envisioned what texting would turn into. Mediums of communication are unpredictable. If something like Facebook chat/messenger had come along sooner, texting could have remained basic and simple. Instead, it has become another thing we have to decode and analyze, especially when it comes to dating. The younger generations are seeing the effects the strongest, because they have grown up texting in an increasingly mobile phone-dependent world.
The thing that complicates texting so much is that everyone has their own personal style. I’d like to think the majority of people text the way they would speak to you in person, but if not, that makes it even trickier to tell how they’re coming off. The major issue I’ve witnessed that leads to miscommunication is the lack of tone and expression in a line of a text. Based on punctuation, one can get a sense of what someone means by what they’re typing. But then you have to take into consideration that some people text a lot more informally than they would speak and use major abbrevs (abbrevations) and less punctuation.
There’s no one formula that will guarantee successful communication and deliverance of the message you want to send in the texting world. And then there are emoticons- whole new playing field. Too much can be overwhelming, but those cold , grammar-police, scholastic style texters (you know who I’m talking about…every word that should be capitalized, is. All the punctuation is precise. Commas set off the appropriate clauses. And you’re left feeling like you’re talking to a 60 year old English professor) can come off cold as well. Use emoticons sparingly, in a playful and timely manner. A smiley, or worse, winky, face in every text to someone you’re interested in can come off a little overwhelming and overeager.
Throwing it back to the “old days” with actual letters when one of you is away, or notes on special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays is another form of communication and allows for more expression. Even a note for no reason at all telling your significant other you hope they have a good day or a drawing of an inside joke can brighten their day and let them know you’re thinking of them. While it’s similar to texting in that you can’t tell the exact tone, it’s a more expression-based, romantic form that has lasted through the ages. It doesn’t give you the minute-to-minute satisfaction and response time that texting does, and I think there’s value in that. We’ve become so accustomed to instant gratification, it’s refreshing to slow the pace down a bit and create some anticipation in a relationship setting.
What I’m trying to get at, and don’t get me wrong I text just as much as the next person, is that nothing beats verbal, interpersonal contact. In a mobile dependent society, we often times use our phone as a crutch for communication. But with texting someone can just stop responding out of the blue. It’s a good way to bridge the gap between actually seeing someone you’re dating, and it can be really fun if you find one of the non- boring, dynamic texters, but nothing is the same as speaking on the phone or talking to someone in person. With texting, no matter how many tips you get on etiquette or how much decoding you do of the way things should be taken, it really is just a personal judgment call you’ll have to make based off of how the conversation flows. There’s nothing wrong with running it by others too to see how they would read the way something was said. Obviously avoid an overload of information or coming off too cold, and adjust the conversation with the way the back and forth carries on.
All in all, stick to what you’re comfortable with. If you like texting, find someone who you enjoy texting and combine that with valuable verbal communication. If you’re not the biggest texter, tell that to the people you’re dating. If they’re worth it they’ll have no problem with that. It all comes down to the way you most like to communicate, but don’t leave it just to the screens to do all the work. The good ol’ flat out talking to and seeing each other is invaluable.
by Kayleigh Hentges
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