Monday, February 14, 2005

Texting Etiquette: Part One.

Texting in the UK is massive, in fact:
  • 95% of 16-24 year olds use text messaging regularly, each sending an average of 100 texts per month.
  • On New Year's Day 2005, the total number of text messages sent reached 133 million, the highest recorded daily total.
  • On average, over 3 million messages are sent every hour in Britain.

Further astounding facts on texting can be found here:

The general consensus is that the whole point of texting is to provide a short cut to communication, which works outside the standard rules of grammar and spelling, whilst giving us a fast and efficient method of information sharing that reflects our modern lives. Well that's true and I agree but beyond this is the simple fact that whenever we receive contact from another human being (no matter what the form) we will interrupt this with a combination of logic and emotion. With the rapid development of this new form of grammar and a complete lack of etiquette surrounding receiving and sending of these communications we are literally firing little hand grenades each and every time we hit SEND.

Therefore I think it is time that a simple set of rules were laid down to ensure that we minimise any accidental hurt feelings or general misunderstanding we may cause through poor text messaging.

I intend this to be a multi part blog as quite simply I ain't got all the answers, man. But I will start with a very basic one:

1. Is it a text or ring situation?

I feel the general problem with texting is that far too many people choose to text rather than just ring. A friend of mine made this clear to me recently when I was trying to organise a meeting between us and a third party. After the forth of fifth text my friend pointed out that I'd just spent approximately 50p texting when I could have called, given the information and rung off for less than 20p, and saved myself a bit of time into the deal.

The reason we have taken to texting so much is that on the whole many of us do not feel particularly confident speaking on the phone, even to friends. This is because it is far far harder to interrupt how the other person is reacting to you over the phone as there are no visual clues only verbal ones. And as most gurus of this sort of thing will tell you 95% of all communications is visual. Texting cuts all this away and allows you to be very direct without (hopefully) appearing rude.

From my own point of view texting has massively improved my ability to ask a woman out. Simply put if I had to ring someone to ask if they want to go to pub for a drink I just wouldn't do it. With texting I feel much more confidant as I can hide my nerves and measure how casual I appear through the use of words. For example;

"Hi, this is Herge. Do you fancy meeting up for a drink this week?"

Whereas a call would require much preamble before getting to the crux of the matter a text just gets the job done - stat!

However, if for example I was at the pub and the woman I was meeting was fifteen minutes late it would be far more appropriate to call than to text. After all as we all know texts have a habit of arriving at the intended recipients phone with unpredictable speed - anywhere in my experience from almost instantly to a week later.

So anywhere what is the rule here? The rule I think is this:

Rule 1: If it is easier, faster and more reliable to phone, then phone, don't text.

The second rule to be explored will be -

2. Should you reply to all texts that ask a question?

Till then... cu l8er

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