After admitting to a series of both wine-fuelled and sober novel-esque (but surely all well-written) texts back in the fall sent to a former prolonged summer fling (see Shelf Life Relationship) one of our oh-so-wise girlfriends offered us a few words of advice. “The written word is a powerful and dangerous thing; wield it wisely. You don’t have to write down and send him every single thought, opinion, argument and well-wish.” It seemed so simple. But as self-proclaimed better written than vocal communicators at times (especially when it comes to awkward subject matter that makes us nervous), the access our former BlackBerry keypad offered was perfect channel/outlet to communicate our thoughts and feelings while on the subway, at a party, or on a lunch meeting… all in a few (hundred) words. Well, we learned our lesson: in times of romantic turmoil, wearing your heart on your smartphone keypad may cause more harm than good. Here are a few things to ask yourself before you unleash those frantically typing fingers and hit “send” on those subsequent essay text messages.
Would you take the time and energy (or have the balls) to say it in person?
Are those long drawn out sentences, confessions, examples and supporting claims, name calling or plain rambling, things that you would call up a coffee shop meeting for? Would you even pick up the phone and call him or her to relay all this information? Just as alcohol has historically offered liquid courage in matters of the heart, modern, instant communication can provide written courage. It is easier to hide behind a smartphone screen and written words. We find that, among our friends, and especially in times of break-ups, the one broken up with seems to be the one who (perhaps grasping at straws) thinks that maybe if they wrote out all their arguments, the recipient will finally see or understand their point. Having been on both sides of this, we assure you that it won’t. It will only annoy them and make it worse.
What do you wish to accomplish?
Why? What difference is do you think your essay of a text message is really going to make? Trust us, we have even sent poems via text at one point or another. Especially with men, once they look down and see a long paragraph novel text message, it is seen as daunting and they don’t even want to read it. Even worse: if another text comes in at the same time from you. Never double text. Period. Ask yourself your objective; for us, we discovered that the written word was merely an outlet to articulate and understand (mainly for ourselves) the effed up situation we had found ourselves in and what we were feeling. If this is your case, get a journal instead. Seriously.
Would you be embarrassed if others saw?
We all know texts and emails leave a paper trail, but sometimes you really don’t care in the heat of the moment. After furiously typing out a novel of a text, no matter how hard we try not to, we at times can’t control ourselves and inevitably hit send. “I don’t care who he/she shows,” you think to yourself. “I make perfect sense…and it is rather witty if I do say so myself.” Ask yourself, more specifically, if you’d be embarrassed to show your best friend, mom, his or her family or co-worker. If you would be embarrassed if someone saw, odds are (especially if your message is ‘crazy’) he or she is going to show at least one person… who you may know or not. It should almost be assumed.
And… Are you sober?
Let’s be honest; alcohol only makes the whole “heart on keypad” thing worse. Luckily, there are apps that can help. The Text Saviour increases the size of your text message font, so you can better see what you are writing in addition to playing back an audio recording of your message – very useful. It also displays the contact photo of the person you are messaging, so there are no mishaps and need for the embarrassed “wrong person” text the next day. The Drunk Text (Oops! App) allows users to block incoming or outgoing communication with selected people. As an added bonus, it scans outgoing messages for name references to avoid that ever-so-common alcohol-facilitated mistake of texting the person who are talking about instead of your supportive BFF. The app is available for Android devices and is free. You’re welcome.
In general, remember that just because modern communication allows for instantaneous exchanges of information right at our fingertips via the text message does not mean that it is an open invitation for a free-for-all influx of written words. As we have recently discovered, the unfamiliar touch screen of our new iPhone makes this more difficult anyway.