A recent romantic situation involving lots of miscommunication via text message and the realization that some people (like, ALL of us) just weren’t meant to communicate solely via devices, has me seriously reconsidering our collective reliance on texting as the number one medium for chatting. I’ve always known that stuff can get lost in translation via text, that, say, an ellipses to one person can mean something entirely different to another. But it’s never seemed more detrimental in the dating sphere than it has of late.
Here’s the story in the vaguest terms possible: Girl meets boy through friends (No Tinder? Now, that’s novel!) and there is lots of chemistry. They share a bed, as innocently as two people can (which is to say, sans S-E-X), and she goes on her merry-ish way. Boy texts girl immediately after she leaves with a message decidedly more intimate than most one-night-standers are wont to do. Girl melts, wonders if perhaps they’ll see each other again. Later that day, girl texts boy, he responds. But his response “feels lukewarm” to her (because she’s damaged, used to being on the he’s-probably-an-asshole defensive) so she doesn’t respond. “On to the next,” the girl thinks, until she finds out later that week that said-boy nervously harped on about her non-response to another friend. “What should I do?” the boy apparently wondered.
Let me interrupt the story here, so that we can fully assess the ridiculousness of the situation. First, there’s “her” insanity borne out of trying to pick up on emotional cues from a few letters typed out on a shiny screen. Then, there’s his insanity in not just following up later that week with another text, because, well, wouldn’t that be the simplest solution? Yes, reader, yes it would.
But, alas, texting has made over-over-analyzers of us all, which is especially frightening for me as that character trait (ahem—flaw) was already fairly entrenched in me from birth. I can only imagine how much it’s been heightened since constantly trying to decode the labyrinthine world of SMS. Even scarier is that we all seem to believe we’ve actually figured it out, each of us harboring our own set of rules about what means what. All that individual perspective is bound to lead to losing a lot in conversation—if we’re not referring to the same guidebook, how can we expect to end up on the same page?
Eventually this poor girl bit the bullet and texted him back, eliciting a response that was sarcastic (she thinks) but also revealing, with the boy questioning why she never responded. Not wanting to lead with “Well, see, I’m really damaged, and I hate men, even though I also, you know, really like them,” she decided to stick with: “I’m a bad texter, sorry!” Which is not really true, at all, unless you consider that we’re ALL bad texters, because perhaps texting itself is inherently bad, most notably when it comes to #courtship.
With the technological gap seemingly bridged, girl and boy were both relieved, now free to communicate at their leisure. Sounds like an easy pursuit! But, no, it wasn’t. There was lots of confusion re: what was sarcastic and what wasn’t, and especially what each party wanted from the other–a date, perhaps? “Just call him and figure it out,” advised a real adult, one not totally fucked up by iPhone dependence. “God, no,” responded the girl, “He’d be weirded out! He’d find it aggressive.” The real adults on this pseudo panel responded, mouths to their toes, in horror. “WHAT IS HAPPENING?” they wondered aloud, and, yes, since I’m the “girl” in question, I was wondering, too.
Sure, it’s the older generation’s way to shake their heads at us “youth” in disgust, and often their opinions feel too conservative, or close-minded. But, here, I think they may have a point. Just think about your own damn dating life and I have no doubt that you will spot a few 4G-rendered roadbumps. How many times might situations have been resolved easier, with feelings made more clear, if they were taking place on the face-to-face (or at least voice-to-voice) stage? I know I certainly would have saved myself a lot of time, not to mention the time of others.
SO, finally fed up with this faulty attempt at communication, I’m setting myself a wild and crazy resolution: to CALL guys from the very beginning of any potentially-romantic situation. If they can’t handle it—if real dialogue is just too much—well, perhaps they’re not worth pursuing in the first place. Sure, I might be a little nervous to boldly go where many humans (those not of our generation) have gone before, but it will pass. And, in honor of this stunted adolescence brought on by our beeping and buzzing pocket pals, I’m going to double-dog-dare you to do the same. Let’s reconvene (maybe even in person?) in a few months and take notes, shall we? And, yes, you can buy me a drink (Pimm’s Cup, please) if it helps you get laid.
Image c/o Time