In case there was ever any doubt, we are officially in the digital age. People are so connected to their digital devices that we might as well become cyborgs and just get them implanted directly into our brains! Unfortunately, though, I think that Einstein may have been correct about our technology surpassing our humanity, and now we are an age of people who do not understand how to interact with each other. We use texting, email, Facebook chat, Twitter, Instagram, etc., etc., etc. to communicate at each other as opposed to with each other. And the rules of grammar and social etiquette are just gone!
And apparently there are. While I wish I could take credit for the word “textiquette,” I found that, sadly, it’s a pretty popular word… even if people don’t seem to know the rules it implies. A Google search for the word came up with around 5,900 results in about 30 seconds.
So, apparently I’m not the only one who’s become frustrated with rude and inconsiderate texters*.
* I should make a note here to explain that the incident that originally inspired this post was based on a misunderstanding and I’m no longer upset about it, but thank you (and you know who you are) for the inspiration!
Texting has become such an important part of communication that some people, myself included, are leery of talking on the phone until they are really comfortable with a person. This leads to a variety of interesting dilemmas, such as problems between friends or hurt feelings between lovers. In honor of my Summer Dating investigation, I thought I’d talk about the different types of texters, the communication problems that can arise when different types of texters clash, and how to work around these problems.
The way I see it, there are about 6 main types of texters. Each comes with their own set of benefits and faults, and sometimes different combinations just do not mesh (Think explosions in the digital world!). Here are the biggest offenders that I’ve seen:
The short and sweet.
This type of texter seems to actually understand what texting was originally designed for: short responses when a phone call is impossible or unnecessary. Going to be late coming home from work? A short text to your significant other will suffice. Can’t answer because you’re in a meeting? Text a short, “Can’t talk now. In meeting” response to the caller. This is our baseline, our starting point.
Pros: They respond when they get a text, and you never have to wonder where they are. They tend to be responsible, frugal people who utilize the same tactics in their real life. This is a person who can keep deadlines and won’t go over budget.
Cons: They probably also don’t say much when they speak to you. They think everything has a time and a place and a purpose, so long meandering conversations don’t work for them. Thus, they don’t do text only conversations. They may use acronyms like “lol” wrong, and they don’t use complete sentences.
Frustrated with: If you have a problem with a Short and Sweet texter, try letting them know that you would like to hear from them more often, but be aware that what that means to you, and what it means to them may be two very different things. If this is a person, like a lover or a family member, that you really want to be in your life, be willing to compromise. Understand that their short texts could be caused by texting fear, or maybe they just prefer face to face interaction.
This is you: If you prefer this method of texting, you might be frustrated with your friends and family who text All. The. Time. Try sending them a message that you’ll talk later, and then when later arrives, explain the situation to them. The type of person who cares enough to send you a text throughout the day, probably cares enough to compromise if you explain the situation to them.
I’ve seen this predominantly in teenage texters. On the rare occasion that I give a student my cell number (like when I was cheer sponsor), I have noticed that this type of person likes to add letters and spell using some sort of phonetics that seems unique to any language on the planet. And they ALWAYS have their phone, usually the newest brand, with the cutest cover. If Clueless had been made in 2014, Cher, Dionne, and Tai would fit in this category with their bedazzled phone cases to match their Chanel clutches and Jimmy Choo shoes.
Pros: This type of texter will respond almost instantaneously. They will be supportive of your feelings (as long as you aren’t fighting with them), and they probably know where the nearest Starbucks is without using Google maps.
Cons: Theyyy luv to add exxxtra letters for nooooo reason, or leav lttrs out, and think yhu are the coooolest, scnd only to them. These are also the people who usually include the letters and numbers combo to shorten words, like with “l8r.” (An English teacher’s nightmare!)
Frustrated with: This is a tough situation because I’d like to believe that it will self-correct with age, but I’m not sure that’s true. I know with my students, I very casually asked them about it, and, while they kinda looked at me like I was stupid, they did agree to try. Then if they slipped, I sent my response using the corrected spellings of words they used. I noticed it did get better, but there needs to be an explanation first.
This is you: I hate to sound rude, but if this is the type of texter you are, please be aware that it isn’t as charming as you think. Try to limit your misspellings and shortening of words unless necessary. There are plenty of ways to make a text cute without making yourself seem uneducated. You don’t have to completely omit your Cuteee words, but save them for when you need to emphasize a point.
William Faulkner was an American author known for his very long sentences. In fact, the 1983 Guinness Book of World Records credits him with the longest sentence totaling 1,288 words. Similarly, the Faulknerian texter sends ridiculously long messages that may comprise multiple texts which occasionally appear out of order, causing the receiver to have to decipher which text should come first, next, last. They use complete sentences, or run-on sentences, when responding, even to short texts that could be answered with “Ok.”
Pros: This type of texter will tell you exactly what you need to know, how it makes them feel, what the plan is, and why. They care about what they are talking about, and tend to care about the person to whom they are communicating. And you never have to worry that you are misunderstanding them because they will explain their meaning… in great detail.
Cons: The will explain EVERYTHING in great detail! Sometimes texts will be out of order, causing confusion, and if you ask, you’ll get a different, multiple text message that will again be out of order. Also, because they care, they expect texts back, in a timely manner, and preferably of a similar length.
I will apologize now to all of my friends, because I know I am one of these. Not always, but when I’m upset, Katy bar the door! Expect up to a ten text message! (It has actually happened…)
Frustrated with: Please be aware that this texter means well! You know them, they’re probably a very bubbly person in real life, but also someone who wears their emotions on their sleeve a little bit. Similar to the Short and Sweet dilemma (but in reverse), the next time they give you a rambling text, tell them that you’d prefer to get the details in person over coffee, or over the phone (if they’re far away). This way, you acknowledge that you care enough to want to hear what they have to say, but can politely get the point across that you don’t have time to go through their whole text. As this type myself, I can assure you that a Faulknerian’s primary concern is that you don’t just ignore what they said, or intentionally stomp on their feelings.
This is you: Be aware that not everyone needs your life story in a book format! In a dating scenario, you might push away a great person because they are uncomfortable with the amount of information you are presenting them with. It’s intimidating, especially if they don’t follow the same rules. Save your super long texts for your other friends who text that way, or be willing to understand that you will have to repeat yourself next time you see someone in person because, more than likely, they didn’t read your long, rambling text…
The internet is overrun with silly Mom text memes, so I’m going to use dear old Mom as the title for the texter who really doesn’t understand how the whole texting thing works. This type of texter is usually older, but doesn’t want to be seen as “un-hip” (even though that phrase alone will show just how “un-hip” they are) so they use acronyms and texting shorthand to fit in, but they use it incorrectly.
Pros: They tend to be strong individuals who pride themselves on being self-sufficient. They will respond to texts when they get them, and will only send a text when calling or a face to face interaction is impossible.
Cons: They have no idea what they are doing! You may get repeated texts, acronyms used incorrectly, or texts full of autocorrect fails. If it’s been a while since they checked their messages, you may get a handful of responses at once or, worse, they’ll call to try to figure out what you’re talking about in an old text, and the ensuing conversation will be full of awkwardness.
Frustrated with: Be patient with this type of person. They are probably really intimidated by the technology presented to them. If you’re close to them, try to suggest some place where they can get a little help learning about cell phones and texting. Libraries usually offer classes on all sorts of technology that is free to anyone. Or help them set up a text lexicon full of the acronyms and emoticons that are commonly used and then make it the background on their phone. It will help them feel more self-sufficient in the long run . Do NOT make fun of them or insult their intelligence in any way!
This is you: It’s ok, texting is not learned overnight. Remember these younger generations have had the technology since before they could walk! They have an unfair advantage. There are lots of resources online to help you learn the basics, and once you’ve got a handful of text terms memorized, and you use them correctly, if someone hits you with one you don’t know, they probably won’t laugh if you ask them to clarify. If that’s too embarrassing, there’s always Google!
If one smiley face is good, 12 must be better! This person is so dramatic in real life that they feel the need to be as dramatic in their texts. Sometimes this is combined with the Cuteee and then things are really… interesting! This is also seen in flirty texts. Sometimes at the beginning of a relationship, when it’s too soon to say “I love you,” or to suggest something a little bit naughty, a wink, or a smiley, or a kiss face will do the trick. But then it becomes a habit, until you might get a text of nothing but emoticons….
Pros: Emoticons are as varied as emotions and can sometimes make your day when you get a text with one in it. These people tend to be either true romantics or class clowns, or perhaps a little bit of both. As such, a person who overuses emoticons is really trying to get their point across and they realize that a picture is worth a thousand words. An emoticon is at least worth 10.
Cons: Overuse of emoticons tends to make reading the text difficult. There are too many things blocking the words, and eventually they just lose their ability to express emotions. They just become distractions.
Frustrated with: Sometimes asking a question is easier than making a statement that can come across as accusatory. Instead of telling a person that their use of emoticons is a problem, try asking them why they use so many. They may actually not have a word for what they are trying to express. This is a conversation that is probably best in person, however.
This is you: Unless you are a highly visual person, someone with a limited vocabulary with which to express yourself, or a child under the age of 15, you should not be sending all of your texts with emoticons! After a while, they really lose their charm, and they become a burden instead of a help.
This person doesn’t think to respond to texts, leaving the other party thinking that they might just be dead… In reality, they are probably busy and didn’t see the text, or maybe they didn’t know how to respond right away. A friend once explained to me, great people, be they artists or geniuses, have to make a trade for their greatness, and usually it happens in the field of social skills. The Flatliner probably fits in this category, or at least all the ones that I’ve known have.
Pros: This person won’t swamp you with messages. They keep them short and to the point, with no extra frills like unnecessary emoticons. Because of their ability to maintain intense focus, if you become the object of their focus, they will treat you amazingly well, as if you were a rock star or royalty!
Cons: It may be hours or days before they respond to a message, particularly if it is one that they deem unnecessary or a distraction to whatever project that is their current primary focus. This means that if they’ve been sending you a steady stream of replies, when their focus shifts and the texts suddenly stop, you may feel ignored or abandoned.
Frustrated with: First and foremost, have patience! If this is a person who is important to you, and to whom you are important, they are not doing this to hurt your feelings or blow you off! More than likely, they don’t realize that ignoring your texts is hurtful. Try having a rational discussion about the amount of time that is acceptable between texts before you start to worry. And you have to be willing to not bombard them with texts! Try to find a good compromise in order to save your relationship.
This is you: I know it’s hard to find time to accomplish everything sometimes, especially when you are really driven, but these people that are texting you have been willing to take the time to let you know that they care; is it too much to take 5 seconds to let them know you’re not dead? Let them know that you’re swamped at work, or in a meeting, or absolutely exhausted, but you’ll contact them later. But then you have to follow through! Also, if you feel that the other person is texting too much, let them know. All they’re looking for is some acknowledgement that you understand that their time is important, too, and they probably don’t understand why you don’t respond to them. Their frustration stems from their concern for you… because they care.
So, as we continue our search to understand dating, keep these things in mind: A badly executed text, or a mismatch between texting styles can put a serious damper on a fledgling relationship. Guys, you have no idea how we women feel when we get a text with ambiguous meaning! Especially early on when we are trying to determine whether or not you are a person we are trying to be serious with, or if it’s just a Summer Fling, or, worse, a one-night stand!
Basically, just remember that texting styles are diverse, too, so if the person you’re interacting with on a romantic, or potentially romantic, level isn’t of the same style as you, there may be a need for communication to clear up any issues. Let’s all try to remember to be grown ups and have a healthy discussion to reach a compromise instead of jumping to conclusions or overanalyzing ever little detail. Good luck out there!