On December 3 1992 a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group used a personal computer to send what is said to be the first text message -“Merry Christmas”- to a colleague and text messaging as we know it was born.
This past saturday a 22-year-old used his iPhone to send a message that contained a picture of his penis and the following text: “FYSBIGTBABN ;-)” to a girl he met in a bar and guaranteed he would never hear from her again.*
Text messaging can be a great, simple- hell, even fun- way to connect with people but in the wrong hands it can also be a deal breaker. Today we’re talking about avoiding the mistakes of the 5 types of texters who sign their relationship death warrant the second they press “SEND”. Check it out folks, this is who you don’t want to be:
The Tween girl
I accept that a certain amount of text-speak has slipped into the American vernacular but recently, when after saying something funny via text to an adult male, I received this back: “OMFGROTFLMAO :-D” I was left with two questions: 1. What does that mean? 2. Why do I talk to this guy?
Here’s the what: I know that abbreviations are helpful, no one wants to type (or read) a novel in text message form. I also know that as tone doesn’t always read in text (even my sparkling wit sometimes fails) sometimes a well placed emoticon means the difference between a fun exchange and the start of an argument. I get it But come on, folks! Check yourselves! If you don’t have a One Direction poster on your wall your texts should have more actual words than abbreviations and please use the emoticons and emojis sparingly! Also, can we all just agree that the letter “K” is not a sentence or even a word and thus is never the correct textual answer to “Do you want to have dinner with me?”
One word answers are the absolute worst. Is it lack of effort, fear of sounding too eager or do you just not get how sentences work? Sentences keep things moving, one word answers bring them to a grinding halt (as do one letter answers- like the letter “K”). And, worse than the Conversation Killer (who you’ll meet in a minute), the Dalek can make their texting partner feel like they are distracted, annoyed, or just not interested. Witness the Dalek:
Notice how they only use one word and no one seems happy to interact with them? Coincidence? I think not. Consider instead being like the Doctor:
Notice how he uses full sentences and is all cute and endearing? And dude always has a companion, just saying.
The Conversation Killer
This guy is only slightly better than the Dalek. Here’s a sample conversation. You are playing the role of The CK.
Me: “Dinner last night was awesome and your karaoke was impressive! I had a blast!”
You: “Yeah, me too”
You see what happened there? I wrote to you after our awesome date and you responded with what we call a dead end. I’m now thinking “so, do I try again? Is he going to say more? Bored now.” And now we’re not going out again. Good job. The Conversation Killer makes conversing with them feel like work. It’s like pulling teeth to move the conversation forward and, if you are anything like me, your patience wears thin- quickly.
Anyone with improv experience (or anyone who has read Tina Fey’s book) knows the value of saying “Yes, and”. That is to say contributing something to keep the things progressing. Think of this the same way. Don’t just agree, add a thought, a question, a joke…anything! Give your text partner something to work with. A final note on this: Sending the letter “K” as an answer kills conversations. Don’t do it.
This one is a little sad. Sometimes, often around the time of a break up, folks suspect their calls are being dodged and voicemails erased without being heard and they see text as the opportunity to say their piece. I call this the “Hail Mary Text” because I think everyone who does it thinks that they are sending a message of such persuasiveness they’ll be like Staubach in 1975.
I will not say that this never works because I’m sure there are times when it has but, brass tacks? You’re dealing with someone who doesn’t want to talk to you! You’re starting to nudge the line on creepy behavior here. Also, SMS is not the place for emotional exchange, it’s just not the appropriate medium. Put those two facts together and you’ve just expressed strong feelings in an inappropriate manner to someone who doesn’t want to talk to you. You may as write a note reading “I want to wear your skin as a coat” tie it to a brick and chuck it through their window- you need to find another way!
Remember, throwing the Hail Mary can easily make you Brady in 2012.
PS- “K” = still not a word
The Porn Star
I’m going to keep this simple: do not EVER send pictures of your genitals unless asked (and even then please give it some thought). Apart from the fact that it’s just wrong to subject anyone to faceful of unexpected nether-regions, this really comes down to a question of maintaining some mystery. The suggestion of nakedness is way hotter than testicles on my phone. Fact.
In the end, to avoid being any of these folks, you’ve got to know your audience and, you know, talk like a person. At the risk of sounding like a Disney movie the best thing you can do is be yourself… unless “yourself” sends photos of your junk with the caption “CU L8R ;-P”. If that’s the case you should just surrender your phone. K? ;-)
*You’re dying to know what the hell that text meant, aren’t you? According to this site it means (I kid you not) Fasten Your Seat Belts It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Night.