Thursday, July 02, 2009

“Well .. What does THAT mean?”

It was a Sunday brunch not too long ago, where a few of my girlfriends and I sat around trying to decode a five word text from a boy, as if we were the archaeologists who had just discovered hieroglyphics weren't intricate finger paintings. I mean, it was a simple five word text: “I had a great time.”

“It means what it says it means,” said Stuart, our brutally honest window into the not so pretty world that is the male psyche. “Why are you women always reading into things?”

“But that is so generic. I mean, he could just be being polite,” my girlfriend countered.

“Hmmm. I don’t think so.”

“How do you know he’s interested?”

“Oh.. He's interested.”

“How can you tell? Because if he wasn't he just wouldn't text you back anything.”

Stuart was right. Here we were three intelligent girls, sitting around, reading texts that were written at a first grade reading level, and we could barely comprehend their collective meaning. The guy might as well have written her in wingdings.

With all the different means of communication we have available to us, why is the gap between men and women getting seemingly larger?... Cell phone companies pride themselves on fave five plans and unlimited texting, (and my ultimate vice of Blackberry Messenger--BBM), but really humans are doing far less effective communicating, and only adding a lot more confusion to an already baffling dating world.

I too am absolutely guilty of using technology as a crutch, mainly because… I hate talking on the phone. It’s a well documented fact I have awful phone etiquette. It’s nothing I do on purpose, and I actually am quite embarrassed by it. Maybe it’s my ADD, or my inability to multitask while having a conversation—I tired chewing gum once, big mistake.. huge. It’s certainly become a huge issue when it comes to conference calls, too. My usually dynamic personality is reduced to single syllables, some of which aren’t even in the English dictionary. “Mmm-Hmm mmm-hmm. Ok. Goodbye.” 2 years of public speaking classes, down the drain.

And don’t get me even started on voicemails. I leave voicemails like John Favreau in Swingers, progressively more awkward, and not sure how to end the one sided conversation I have ended up having. And that is sober. Throw in some a night at the pub with my buddies and transient Southern accent, and you’ll swear Daisy Duke is drunk dialing you from knee deep in Uncle Jesse’s moonshine stash.

Sometime during the 9th grade, I believe I discovered texting, and my parents discovered unlimited texting plans. SMS Texting was such a brilliant idea. It eliminated the need for the awkward phone call, it made sending stupid number codes through pagers obsolete, and it killed time during those brutally long hours of Mr. Stookey’s Physics class. With texting, I was unstoppable. I was poetic, I was composed. I was less of a bumbling idiot, and that really seemed to help me with the boys.

One night, Alicia and I found ourselves eavesdropping on the group of guys’ conversation at the table next to us. They were debating whether or not to drunk text these girls they had met earlier that night, and strategizing what to say.

"Put a winky face dude. Chicks love the winky face."
(The male brain ladies and gentlemen.. Hard at work.)

REALLLLLLLLLY guys?? Were we women really that easy to figure out? I laughed at their rationalizations and returned to my plate of syrup drenched pancakes. Ah. Boys. Alicia and I knew a few boys like this. One in particular with an affinity for the internet slang term “LOL.” His use of the word while texting was beyond incessant and the greater majority of the time was completely inappropriate. We’re not even sure he knew what LOL even meant.

“Hey what's up? Lol.”
“Just got fired form my job. Lol.”
“Dropped a weight on my foot at the gym. Lol.”

To which, I say, “No sweetie, that’s not LOL, that’s FML. “

Besides that, men text like they are being charged by the letter while women text like they're trying to win a Pulitzer. I asked my guy friends why this was. They explained they text for basic functions in life, to get to the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE. They don’t need details or cute little stories. If you have them, just pick up the freakin' phone. Which brings me back to our original conversation and the five word text. Women are always looking for answers, hidden meanings to things guys text. We can’t help it; It’s how our brains are programmed. Guys are much more willing to accept things at face value. If you say you’re cool, you’re cool. There’s no tone or body language to set off alarms otherwise, so why worry about what you might have meant. Maybe that’s why sometimes men just don't grasp a woman’s constant excuses as to why they can't hang out, no matter how ludicrous they may seem are really just the girl’s way of saying.. I'm just not interested.

And the worst part of texting?.. There is no UNSEND button. You may spend twenty minutes crafting that response to the date of your dreams, hit send... then realize. Damn. That was quite possibility the dumbest text ever transmitted. But it’s gone. There’s no turning back. You have to just pray the person on the receiving end of it has a sense of humor, or doesn’t mistake you for some wacko. This also applies to drunk texting. See

I think when it comes to communication; nothing beats a “face to face.” Maybe that's why we should all just cut through the BS, look each other in the eye whenever possible. “I like you, you like me.” It’s really as simple as that. Besides, it’s so much easier to read the other person when they're standing right in front of you. Heck, with Skype, even long distance face to face is completely possible. (Men are visual creatures anyway.) You can see the person, you can see them react, their mannerisms, and just as importantly, they can better read you. Body language however primitive is still probably the most telling form of communication. Hell, if cavemen could figure out this whole mating thing, surely there must be hope for modern civilization yet.
If we can learn anything from the technology at our hands, it’s that nothing still beats a real meeting of minds. That way there’s no second guessing, no misinterpreting, and no awkward pauses. None of this.. “well, what does he mean by that?” Because if he is standing right in front of you, odds are you know the answer already.

And if you still insist on texting, remember one thing…

Chicks dig the winky face. ; )


JT said...


Burning Chrome said...

well jenn, just a few things...first, i know exactly how you feel about the phone and the voice message thing. i swear i feel exactly the same way. i would much prefer to communicate by email or text. but i also know that i need to talk on the phone, so i work on it.
i must also say that i am not the typical dude. i wrtie fairly long text messages, often creeping up on the 160 character limit.
you are, of course, correct in your conclusion that if you really need to talk to someone, really communicate, then you need to be standing in front of them. this is especially true for all big life moments.
peace out. (and by peace out, i mean i wish you peace and i am done with my comment.) ;)

Veritas said...

This reminded me a citation of Alfred Whitehead "Look for simplicity and then try to figure it out"
Its true, men and women are beginning to less and less understand each other, tecnology has something to do with it but I believe it's only a small part of the whole, I believe that the gap between men and women his doe more to the change of roles that each other played in the past.
Least face it, we are in the 21st century, we are playing the relationship game with an all new set of rules.
It's also true that men and women never thought in the same way, and it doesn't matter the century that is never going to change; if we were that good on understanding each other there wouldn't be so much break ups, failed relationships and discussions about sometimes even the most insignificant things.
What can I say Jenn?! Maybe men and women softwares simply aren't compatible?!
Like Jean Massillon once said "We are always saying that society isn't worth a thing, but still most of the times we live only for it"
You see Jenn we don't like things has they are but we also don't do anything to change it.

Fern said...

I used to despise text messages, I thought "well, if I have something worth saying I might as well dial the phone!"... Recently however I've realized that for simple questions "how long till you get here?" "what was the hw assignment?" a text will suffice.

I still hate shorthand though... "wut r u doin 2nite, wnt 2 c a movi?" honestly I think I just lost half my IQ by typing that garbage, let alone getting a 3-screen text full of that... and expect me to understand it!

Good luck in your undertaking of male-hieroglyphics, being male myself I can guarantee you that 9/10 times anything we say will be taken out of context and interpreted a dozen different ways... and we really did just mean "I had a good time".

random comment: seems we've watched the same movies lately? "paul blart: mall cop", and "he's just not that into you"?