Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Text messaging 101

In a few days, it will be Christmas.  In a few more days, it will be the start of a new year.  I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that I've learned this past year.  One of the things I've learned with regard to text messaging--and which was reinforced for me last night--is that you should be extremely cautious about texting people that you don't know well.  If you don't know someone well, and by this, I mean you haven't had very many face-to-face conversations, or if the conversations you've had have not given you a sense of how that person feels about life in general or how they react to stress, then maybe you should restrict your text messages to simple comments or phrases.  For example, an appropriate thing to text your new friend might be, "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy New Year!"  Simple questions that can be answered with 'yes' or 'no' might be o.k., as long as the question you are asking is straightforward:  "Can I borrow your vacuum?"  This question would be o.k.  You might even add a bit of explanation:  "Can I borrow your vacuum?  Mine is broken."  On the other hand, something like, "Where are you?" can invite hostility or resentment if the person you are texting is easily provoked, or is in the midst of a stressful situation (or a relaxing one.  Think about it.). 

I've learned this both as the sender of an unfortunate text and as the bystander-to-the-recipient of an unfortunate text.  Learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.  Don't enter the new year uninformed!  Make this the year that you communicate clearly and avoid conflicts and disputes.  When texting, I make it a point to avoid long conversations.  It's tedious, anyway, to be punching in all those letters.  Just make the effort to call.  If I don't know how someone reacts, or if I suspect that the person on the other cell phone might be given to drama, I don't bother texting.  I sent someone a text this year that led to a serious sit-down meeting--all because my message had been misunderstood. 

Brian and I have been together for twenty years and I have borne him four children, and still our text messages are short and to-the-point.  Here's an example:  "Is the dog ok?"  "Yes" "Great!  C u later."  See how easy that was?  That whole conversation was shorthand for an incident that he and I both knew about, and that we would talk more about later.  Because we don't have that level of intimacy or knowledge with most people, text messaging doesn't work as a clear means of communication. 

Here's a little tip for the young people out there:  Text very little.  Really.  I can't imagine the temptation that you all have with that. I got into enough trouble with the telephone and snail mail.  I'm sure it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway:  If you can't say something to the person's face, don't say it on a text or email. 

With that, there is my lesson for the day.  I hope that you're enjoying Christmas Break--that is, if you're getting one.  Brian is enjoying his new job, and I sincerely thank all of you for your prayers and for asking about how things are going.  He is very happy, and we are grateful for the opportunity.  As for me, I am staying busy subbing.  I enjoy working with children and am learning a LOT.  I am currently on Christmas Break with my four little angels punks.  If I could get my oldest two sons to stop fighting and swearing, well, that would be DELIGHTFUL.  My perspective of my sons' teenage years is very much like my perspective of childbirth:  This will all be over soon.  At some point they will grow up, God willing, and these difficult years will be but a distant memory. 

And then Jesse and Lily will be teens.  Yikes.

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