Texting: You’re Doing it Wrong

How to handle the bad-behavior minefield of 21st-century cell phone and social media do’s and don’ts

Workman Publishing
Jun 2, 2015 · 4 min read

Relationship and etiquette expert, popular columnist, and successful author Melissa Kirsch has got plenty to say about the right way to handle yourself with your phone, whether it be in the office, out on the town, or when texting that special someone. Her advice isn’t just for girls, though; men would do well to dog-ear the following pages of Kirsch’s THE GIRL’S GUIDE (Workman).

You think you know how to text. You do it all day, every day, after all. But the sheer volume of texts we send makes it fairly likely that we’re being inconsiderate via text message more than we have any idea. Good thing there are a few rules we can all agree on.

Texting is for fast, light communication that doesn’t require long responses.
“What’s the address of the party?” “I’m at the DMV and I’m so bored I could claw my own eyes out.”
“What’s new with you?” “What’ve you been up to since high school?” Receiving an open-ended question via text gives people anxiety — how are they supposed to convey the nuance of what’s really new when they’re trying to fire off a text before catching their train? Better to send an email.

As we discussed above, texting is not for major news, like births, deaths, breakups, or accidents. Text “Call me when you get a chance!” and when I do, you can tell me you got engaged and we can both exult.

A friend asked me why it’s not okay to break up with someone via text even though texting was the primary method by which she and her boyfriend communicated. It’s because texting is a form of asynchronous communication. She didn’t know where her (now ex-) boyfriend was going to be (a meeting? the bus? dinner with a client? the doctor’s office?) when he received the communiqué.

Just because you can (and should) text when you are going to be late doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be late.

Don’t text super-late at night. Lots of people use their phones as alarm clocks and your text will wake them up.

Use group texts sparingly. Texting everyone in your address book “Happy New Year!!!” means the entire group is going to get approximately one thousand responses from people they don’t know. Group texting is good for making plans with a small group but not for broadcasting info — save that for Facebook or Twitter. A good rule is to make sure everyone on the group text knows each other so they will likely care about the responses they receive.

I am of two minds about selfies. I think women should look in the mirror and take photos of themselves and think “Damn, I am hot.” Every day, if possible. There’s so much crap in the world that makes us feel bad about ourselves and seems intent on crushing our self-confidence that we should embrace anything that makes us love the way we look.

Which brings us to selfies. You took a picture, you look cute, so why not post it? Well, it also makes you look a little vain. It’s the same with updating your profile photo constantly. While we all care very much that people see us in our best light and we want to make sure that there are as many photos of ourselves looking our best on the Internet as possible, too many selfies announces to everyone you know that you are constantly thinking about how you look. Humility is just as attractive as the third Instagram post this week of you giving a come hither gaze over your shoulder.

Why not take those pictures, feel great about yourself for looking good, and put them in a folder on your computer that you open up when you need a little self-esteem boost? Or post them where no one will accuse you of vanity: on your Internet dating profile.

There’s plenty more where that came from in Kirsch’s newly-updated book: . More information available here.

Workman Publishing

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