Last week I attended an after-drinks work function of my girlfriend’s. It was predictably filled with many a young professional talking about their various projects, big-wig co-workers, and weekend escapades.
After a few adult beverages, the conversation shifted to more illuminating grounds. Specifically, the dude we were sitting with was in dire need of advice. Advice about a girl.
He was extremely Natalie Imbruglia’ed about this ladyfriend he was seeing — they were clearly on the brink of the “what are we” conversation, the make or break component of all modern relationships. They seemed to be locked in a text message duel — a duel that neither of them necessarily wanted to get it into, but a duel that was always gonna happen. Each text appeared to be incredibly calculated, in the sense that both parties were likely terrified of saying the wrong thing. One wrong word, and their sorta-relationship was done for.
The whole thing got me thinking about how a gigantic a deal our phones have become when it comes to dating. With that, here are some pretty frightening ways texting controls modern relationships:
1. Worthiness Is Determined By What They Text, Not Who They Are
You ask advice on a girl or guy, and that advice devolves into what their latest text means. Caring about someone’s character is important, but certainly not important as deciding whether you should no longer see them because the word “should” is in their last text.
2. You Can’t Be Organic
Some would argue that this is a good thing, given the rampant rise of organic products in every other facet of life.
That said, this is undeniably the new reality. Want to say you had a great time at drinks? Best wait till tomorrow morning, when the high of the date has waned.
3. Sense Of Humor, Confidence, Texting Chemistry
A quick google search of “qualities a girl looks for in a guy” will lead one to things like “sense of humor”, “faithfulness,” and. “confidence.” Another one needs to be added to the list.
That one dude may know his calculus, but he should probably study up on his texting chemistry.
4. It Causes One To Be Self-Aware At All Times
Similar to point number 2, in the sense you constantly need to be thinking about what you’re saying. With texting serving as the vehicle for modern relationships (it used to be a sweet car, now it’s a properly timed raise the roof emoji), you need to make that vehicle look as impressive as possible.
It’s not surprising that this is now a component of modern text messaging. But just like the third Hangover movie, it’s blisteringly disappointing.
6. The Lull
Text messaging exacerbates the upper-hand phenomenon. A necessary (and fun) component of the early stages of relationships, but something that has a tendency to implode on itself.
The first person to text after a lull automatically loses the upper hand, is considered weaker, and is clearly no longer worth pursuing.
7. Feeling Like Your Relationship Isn’t Solid If You’re Not Talking All The Time
I actually don’t think this at all. But I asked a girl’s opinion on this important matter, and she said “feeling like your relationship isn’t solid if you’re not talking all the time.”
So goes the continuing disconnect.
8. Everyone Decodes Messages Differently
Let me attempt to make my college education somewhat useful. Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding theory — something that’s worth reading if you want to have a better grasp on both media and human messaging (and/or validate the necessity of your non-prescription glasses) — notes that people will interpret messages differently based on a number of external variables, most notably personal experiences and cultural background. This particularly applies in a medium like text messaging, which is oftentimes devoid of a clear context.
In other words, the text receiver shapes the meaning of the message more than the text sender. This is very dangerous.
9. No Service Fear
If the text thread ever gets into semi-serious territory (i.e., “are you trying to tell me you want to slow down a bit?”), a temporary service outage, unseen text, or untimely nap can really ruin you forever.
10. It Creates Easy Loopholes
The idea that nobody picks up the phone and calls anymore insinuates that if you do pick up the phone and call, you’re a gem.
Yet, the very act of calling someone on the phone takes about three seconds of extra work. Worth the praise?
11. If you send a paragraph, you’re probably crazy
We live in the age of extreme hyperbole and superlative, which is literally the worst thing ever. I think this sense of heightening also applies to text — if a text is an outlier relative to the other texts, the default insinuation is that you might be crazy.
Long-chunk texts, despite their usefulness and propensity to establish humor and possible inside jokes (totes croosh nowadays), are also very dangerous.
12. Never Ending Anxiety
Let’s face it. Unless you’ve been dating someone for a ridiculously long time, texting, while now a necessary component of establishing human intimacy, is mostly just the cause of perpetual anxiety. Textiety, as it’s aptly been called, is really just our natural state.