To Text or Not To Text With An X

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I came across a great post on Primer magazine titled The Politics of Texting : New Technology, New Drama by Adam Baxter and it instantly conjured up an image of a round table discussion I was having with a group of friends whilst filming for the documentary that I participated in.

The subject of conversation that day included the implications of putting an ‘x’ at the end of a text message and more so about how my friends and I (who are all technically NRI’s who have moved to India recently) found that some people really ‘read into’ the smallest details behind text messages.

texting-med I’ve actually had a conversation with a girlfriend who analysed the way a guy had sent me a text and what it meant … That’s right – she looked at whether or not he put a smiley or a winky or the cheeky tongue (=P) ..

My first hand look at the art of flirting by text ! Apparently all those mean that a guy / girl is showing signs of affection and being flirty … to me .. that’s just the way I normally text … with expression.

The person on the receiving end is unable to see my face nor can they hear my tone of voice – and depending on the way the message is written (all lower case; all caps which is the equivalent of ‘shouting’) it very well could come out the wrong way. I can be quite sarcastic when I joke around, so I tend to put =P or ;) or LOL (laughs out loud) thus allowing the recipient to know my mood and frame of mind when I send the message.

According to SG, one of my guy friends “a message with an ‘x’ is better than a message without an ‘x’ especially when it’s from a person whom you know as it brings a smile to my face and makes you feel that the person cares for you.” At the same time – he doesn’t think too much about whether he’s putting smiley faces or ‘x’s – because his friends will understand what he actually means.

Another friend AA, reckons that if the recipient is a chilled out / open minded individual – they wouldn’t really read into the ‘x’ at the end of a message … however a person who is a bit more conservative will look further into it and wonder ‘why’ would someone use such a ‘personal expression’ ….

Personally, I will only put ‘x’, ‘xxx’, ‘xoxo’ or ‘mwaah’ at the end of a text if I know the person very well – regardless if they are male or female – single or in a relationship. I don’t think too much about it. I will NOT however do that with just ‘anyone’ especially if I get the impression that the other party might even be remotely interested in me – I don’t want to give off the wrong impression.

The problem with text messages as highlighted in the above article is that the ‘meaning behind’ the SMS is lost or often misunderstood. Why ? Because we all have a different perspective on how we look at and digest information given to us.

I’ve noticed that since moving to Mumbai, India – almost EVERYONE I know seems to communicate using text messages, IM’s, Facebook or Twitter and no one seems to believe in picking up the phone and ‘talking’ to each other !

There have been occasions over the last 2 years where I’ve actually had to sit back and assess a few of the text messages I have received and tried to figure out exactly what they mean or imply. e.g. when I first got here, a guy I’d met who seemed quite into me – would call me quite a bit; and then as we both got busy with work – the ‘texting’ came about … and for the life of me I had no idea if this man was still flirting or if he was even interested. I’m just not ‘used to’ having conversations with people over ‘texts’ !

Texting Efficiently

Just yesterday whilst writing this post, it struck me that this guy KB that I’m getting to know – for the past month has always called me ‘diva’ in his messages … yeah that didn’t happen yesterday. Coincidentally – I barely heard from him all day except for a minutes in the morning (so at least he was taking my calls). Later in the day – I sent him a message (yeah I’m guilty for doing that) telling him to ‘cheer up – it was the end of the day – and as his messages came across as frustrated’ … No response ! (Don’t blame him either)

Basically I got ‘used to’ the fact that he addressed me in a certain way and it was out of my comfort zone when he didn’t .. it made me wonder - ‘is all ok’ …. I know I don’t need to think that way – however for the purpose of this post – I allowed my mind to wonder about it. I still sent him a ‘good morning’ message today … and I got a ‘diva’ this morning woohoo !

Oh and ironically – just the other day I told this same guy that ‘I felt that for some reason I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call him as I would with others as I feel I might be interrupting his work’ to which he told me not to worry and just call him at any time and if he couldn’t talk he would let me know …

texting-is-good-for-kidsIt’s an obvious – stares in your face – fact. From my social circle, I’d say that 6 out of 10 use short hand SMS or acronyms whilst chatting ‘online’ i.e text message, IM, and email.

I absolutely detest receiving messages in short hand. I really do. I find it annoying to read and decipher messages in a combination of upper and lower case characters and what looks and reads like atrocious grammatical errors ! But unfortunately for me – the rest of the population around me don’t care a damn because short hand SMS is now perfectly acceptable ! *sigh*

In essence, Social Networks are Changing Conversation. There is no shortage of communication between people - email, instant messaging, and text messages, but there is a definite shortage of clear and concise human communication – basically we now lack the art of conversation !

It just seems these days, that the only people I speak to are my ‘good friends’ whilst texting is when I can’t really be bothered to ‘speak’ to the other party. Intellectual conversation seems to be a dying art form according to me – at least around the people I am surrounded by because everyone is so damn busy with their own lives. During the day, whilst at work – when I feel like exercising my vocabulary skills, then I will either text / IM / FB message my friends (depending on how and where they came to mind) – however the majority of the time – we end up in a conversation over MSN or Gtalk so that we are able to at least multi-task and get work done at the same time. Personally I don’t indulge in too many personal ‘calls’ whilst at work.

To highlight my point, luckily I found some valid stats about this on an article in the Business Standard. Furthermore, VitalAnalytics states that India is currently the second largest mobile market in the world after China, and nearly 10-12 million mobile subscribers are added monthly in the country.

Do you realise the implication of just how many text messages are sent out on daily basis ? No wonder people are getting confused and mixed signals about text messages and their deep dark hidden mysteries !

For those that ‘read into’ the messages that you receive – my only advice to you is ‘Don’t Do It’ ! Especially if you live in a multi-cultural environment – there are people from all sorts of backgrounds and each culture has their own way of communicating – with or without the ‘x’s and ‘mwaahs’ and ‘hugs’ … So don’t dwell too much and just take the message for what it is … read it but don’t read into it !

What do you think ??

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Karishma Sundaram said...

Sometimes the shyer among us use texts to communicate without having to brave an instantaneous reaction. Plus typing out a text sometimes gives one the chance to think deeply about the implications of what we say; a necessity for the chronic foot-in-their-mouth population.

Gautam said...

I believe that you develop a certain 'conversation sense' (if you allow me to call it that!!) with the person that you are chatting to on a daily basis and you may not use the same lingo or style with other person.Although some of that style may permeate while texting to other people but its never always the same, So in that sense I side with the people who decipher meanings from the texts but if you are broadening it to cross-cultural aspects (even while conversing with people in different cities).. then yeah, maybe i agree with you.
P.S. I was a chronic textaholic and texted at least >100 msgs per day!! :P

Dazediva said...

@ Karishma .. Ahh so you speak and do read here :P I'm quite aware that there are a lot of people who will use texts to say things that normally they wouldn't be able to say in a face-to-face situation due to the fact they are on the shyer side. As for the implications of what we send out - its all on perspective I think .. What you may have meant may not always come out that way to the recipient or they may take it the wrong way if it is a serious conversation.

@ Gautam .. Agreed that there is a unique 'conversation sense' with individual people and you wouldn't use the same style with anyone else ..

There's no problem with chronic texting amongst 'close friends' (we've all done it hehe) - its with other people where the messages start getting deciphered in my opinion

cosmetic dentists Sydney said...

@Karishma-- I am very much concern with your point of view. Many time we see that many people can't understand what we have say. But If they have text of the same words it may be possible that they can understand that.

Karishma Sundaram said...

@Divya - 'Course I read your blog! I just have it on my reader and I'm chronically lazy, so I don't comment often. :-)

@Cosmetic dentists sydney - I wouldn't know why you are concerned about my point of view; I merely meant to say it's easier for shyer people (like me) to communicate via text messages. However, I may have misunderstood what you are saying.

Simone Grant said...

Just last week I had a text conversation with a friend regarding a project we're working on together. He seemed terse and hostile (I thought). Several days passed where I didn't hear from him and so I sent an email to follow up on our text conversation, in which I apologized for upsetting him (because I though I had). He replied that he wasn't upset, just in a rush.

I'd been upset for days because I was sure he was at me.

I know that many people are shy and hate phones. But I will always prefer a phone conversation over a text. Always.

Dazediva said...

@SimoneGrant .. I hear where you're coming from. Often people misunderstand the meaning behind texts - and that's the real problem with trying to communicate just by texting !

I much prefer a phone call - anytime, anyday. And if that's too much, at least video skype !