Social scientists back in the early ’90s were sceptical of this newfangled technology, the ‘mobile telephone’. What was the point of it? What was wrong with delivering any vaguely important news by carrier pigeon (okay, slight exaggeration maybe)?
The primary concern of the social scientists of the time was how texting removed all nonverbal cues. The nascent communication medium of email was receiving similar criticism. How would we deal with this complete revamp in how we communicated with one another?
Quaint as this might seem now, it’s easy to understand the concerns of the time when you consider the myriad nonverbal cues that actually are removed in text and email: gesticulation, posture, eye contact, volume, prosody (the rhythm and tone of speech)… And that’s not even to begin to mention the difficulty of identifying sarcasm, irony… and flirting. And you know what? They were on to something.
The mobile took off and pervaded every aspect of our lives. Soon enough, everyone and their dog had one. The social apocalypse never came, but the way we flirted was never going to be the same again. Now, shy people, introverts, ‘quiet ones’, individuals who lacked social skills – all these people now had miraculous access to a communication form that allowed them to approach and get in touch with someone they fancied, without the terror of in-person rejection. Texting also allowed people to take time to consider their message, edit it, inject some witty repartee.
Fast-forward to the present. Once again, human communication has changed beyond all recognition, characterised by the ubiquity of social media and smartphones – but the issue at hand (pun fully intended) transcends all of this. The fact is, texting is simply no substitute for real, meaningful, personable conversation.
As a matchmaker for some of the world’s most exceptional singletons (all of whom are naturally dab hands at texting), my advice is – and always has been – the same: texting is best utilised for sending quick sentiments – especially when you don’t know the person that well. First date tonight? ‘I’m so looking forward to meeting you!’ Want to set up that crucial second date? ‘Hey – how does dinner on Friday sound?’ Try to keep it light, to-the-point – you want them to get to know the real you, and the mere façade of your personality that texting conveys will simply never do you justice. Any form of back-and-forth dialogue is best kept to a phone call – or, of course, face-to-face!
At The Vida Consultancy, our matchmakers are asked by no fewer than 50% of our clients to assist them in the confusion that arises in texting matches whom they are either yet to meet, or whom they have met and are yet to set up the next date with. This is where our expertise and experience come to the fore – we are there for our clients every step of the way. We advise on the tone of texts, what to say, what they mean – and that less is more! These issues can be problematic enough in everyday situations, but, when added to the sometimes volatile context of dating and romance, the emotional charge can lead to embarrassing messages that you instantly regret.
The rise in emoticon usage over the past few years has aided text ambiguity greatly, but there’s still the issue of what to say, how to say it, when to say it… The list goes on. And emoticons have even been a double-edged sword to some extent – where once a simple ‘Great’ wouldn’t have been received without question, now, the lack of smiley face immediately following it might imply entirely unintended sarcasm!
My advice? Recognise the value of speaking in person – or, at the very least, over the phone. If you do find yourself in some unexpected conflict with a partner, or even a potential partner, due to texting, then don’t attempt to resolve it with more texting! Pick up the phone – or conclude the text conversation by simply stating that you’re confused, and that you want to discuss it in person instead.
Need more advice? My team of esteemed Matchmakers and in-house Relationship Psychologist are on hand to help navigate through the many dating pitfalls and confusion that comes with modern day dating. Click here for our contact details.