So, I swiped left. Or right? I don’t know. I’m new at this. The direction that means, “He isn’t wearing an Ed Hardy hat.”
Assuming the men that select “Yes” when they see my profile are literate, which is about as safe to say as “bomb” on a plane, their retinas must spar with this doozy of a statement as my headline: I don’t text message. If you want to arrange a date or get to know me, you’ll have to call me.
BAM. This bitch means business.
Actually, I do. And I’m not generally a very serious person, but I have gotten direly committed to this particular battle anthem: I want to #MakeAmericaCommunicateAgain. And I can say this with conviction: We shouldn’t be getting to know one another solely through text messaging.
“But how am I going to get a hold of you?” they say.
I always chuckle in retort. Not texting seems to absolutely short-circuit these dudes.
Call. FaceTime. Email. Hangout. Make plans.
Our dialogue doesn’t have to be through text – we’ve just never been able to own this declaration out loud.
* shock *
What. A. Fucking. Concept.
I’m three weeks into what has transformed from an uncharted, scary experiment to a fascinating, transformative celebration of being human. I’m 21 days #textless.
So far, I haven’t crafted, sent or received a single text since the dawn of 2018. I’ve nixed messaging apps from my phone and have eliminated social media notifications and alerts.
I do my best to contextualize the digital domain and the real world: I sit down in the digital world to send emails and respond to posts. Then, I leave that domain with my head up, alert, and present.
The digital domain doesn’t come to me anymore; it doesn’t throw itself at me, expecting me to catch. I arrive at it. I own it, and finally, it’s starting to own me less. I focus. I create. I commit.
If I need to read documents or check out a picture, that occurs over email. When I make plans, that happens over a quick call. If I need to pour my heart out, I FaceTime or make face-to-face plans. I’ve made it sound so simple; so streamlined. And really, it is.
When it comes to dating sans text, I’m forced to give less people attention. I have to set boundaries. I budget wisely. And I invest well…finally.
There’s a new standard for how I aim to engage with everyone I encounter, including but not limited to, dates.
And that’s why I’ve gone on a grand total of…
ZERO Tinder dates!
Turns out that there aren’t plenty of fish. There are just plenty of guys who are great at texting.
I haven’t embarked on any in-person Tinder dates since going #textless because A) Most won’t pick up the phone and call me and B) I haven’t actually been investing much time in swiping because, ew, Tinder and C) If they do call, I can tell their “voice doesn’t match their picture;” that we most likely aren’t compatible.
I see it like this: Remember when a date would show up and look nothing like his picture? How deceived and disappointed you would feel?
Well, texting is the new version of the picture that doesn’t match reality. It’s a way for a person to present himself to you in an edited, reward-driven way.
And it’s not risky, it’s not raw, and it’s hard to read through until it’s too late. Before you know it, you’re trapped listening to “Tad” pontificating about his new “Crypto startup” and his Ayahuasca journey and you’re glazed over, just keeping one eye open enough to make sure no one you know spots you.
The methodology of not texting makes it easy for me to listen to the nuances of “Tad” before I get “tricked” into siting down with him – he either doesn’t engage with me in the first place, or if he does, I can get a good read on him through organic authenticity cues via non-edited, focused, real-time talk. You know, the nuances of conversation that make us human.
Most people, namely the Testosterone of Tinder, will not enter the communication Thunderdome with me without texting, is not only fine – it’s awesome.
Guys who just “don’t do calls” simply aren’t showing up anymore. And ones who might not be brilliant conversationalists or avid phone talkers (like me, who prefers to listen and observe over talking), have the chance to demonstrate initiative and boldness to explore the outer limits of the comfort zone by just calling to see what happens. That sense of adventure and risk is something gut-wrenchingly glorious that texting masks over. And it’s something I now look for.
I live beyond my comfort zone. Why would I want someone to invest in me who’s only pretending to do the same?
Humor. That’s another big one that doesn’t cross the Blood-Brain Barrier from text to in-person. You can be a riot over text, but the truth comes out in living color over a phone call. And men who know this fact forfeit the game before it starts, saving us both time and money on our car insurance, or at least on some over-priced dinner.
Removing the text messaging weapon from men’s contact arsenal immediately exposes any creaks and cracks in decisiveness, openness, and confidence. And that’s the most valuable data I’ve gathered thus far, because it’s saved me a shitton of energy texting back-and-forth with good-on-paper matches and then being persuaded into an in-person date.
I dig that my communication finally involves more than just my thumbs and my wit. That means my net of opportunity is much smaller, which at first, is quite the hearty ego punch. It means I have to be direct in my rejection methods. And, it also means that because I’m putting my real self in a vulnerable, clear place, I’m being rejected more, too.
And I’m being rejected for who I actually am, not who I’m pretending to be.
I get rejected less when I’m able to spike the punch with cheeky texts, and in contrast, I get rejected significantly more now that I seem more serious and intense. (Even though I’m not! I’m simply more hoard-y with my time and energy, and much more confident.) Texts seem light and calls seem serious. That’s a schema we might want to consider shifting so we can save ourselves time, energy, effort and when you really think about it, pain.
I know this sounds go-to-hell-harsh, but the rejection I’ve been expressing and accepting is the most honest exchange I’ve ever had with men. It feels like a mutual respect that’s been missing from the get-to-know-you-through-emojis dating scene, even though it’s harder to stomach. It’s been translating to the core all of my other relationships: I’ve gotta know myself so I can know you.
All-in-all, it’s a whole different table to sit down at. It’s a grilled chicken salad – nutritious, but not as fun. In Textland, it was 24/7 pizza and ice cream. Tasty-as-fuck. Instant gratification rolled in, just like instant messages.
But when did it become a good thing for human interaction to be instant? Where’s the beauty in the delicate delay of the “getting to know you” process? Do we actually think we can cut in line, like a Fast Pass at Disneyland, and expect an outcome different than an equally expedited sizzle-and-fizzle in our relationship ride?
Since disarming my most powerful weapon, the text message, I am beginning to uncover a whole new ride. And a whole new world. I wonder if Aladdin is on Tinder.