the art of discourse
Technically, the most important communication will be the in-person facetime that happens upon physically meeting. But for that, I can’t tell you what to do. Feel that situation out yourself. Be you. Or be an absolute lie. These are your only two options. Depending how you play them out, either could be fun. No matter how you play them out, only one can lead to anything meaningful. If you don’t know which one that would be, you probably need more help than this blogger can offer. For the purpose of operating within my capabilities as a blogger, I focus here on the nuances of messaging. This covers text messaging, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Chat, and anything that is purely text/picture based. Skype, phone, Ventrilo, and anything that actually allows you to inflect and converse and convey more than your ability to spell and construct sentences – is exempt from the following rules. There’s an awful lot of tiny stuff that matters more than you would think.
Messaging Rule #1:
Send no more than three consecutive messages, ever.
The tally resets any time you get a reply, or if three days pass. Whichever comes first.
Corrections on typos count as messages.
- Four will make you look crazy. If you’re taking advice from me, you probably already are.
- Four will make you look needy. Let’s face it; this is likely an accurate assumption. But no one needs to know that until it’s too late, right?
- Four will make you look long-winded. In my case, I really am long-winded, but I don’t need to advertise that through SMS too. Chances are, you could have whittled your essay down to a three-texter. What did you need so badly to say that you couldn’t wait your turn for the fourth text’s contents? Give your correspondent a chance to finish reading – better yet, a chance to reply.
- Four will give you far too many opportunities to misspeak. Four will make you look so self absorbed that you can have a conversation all by your onesies, with no help from your recipient whatsoever.
- Four – in cases where you aren’t interested – will make you look like you are. Spare yourself the trouble.
- These reasons apply doubly if you’re replying to a singular text.
Messaging Rule #2:
If you receive three consecutive single-text or single-word replies (see Fig. 01, right), put the phone down and find something else to do for at least three hours. After these three hours have passed, you may try to reinitiate contact, given that you would not be breaking Messaging Rule #1. Another caveat to this rule: never initiate the conversation three days in a row. If you don’t hear from this other person today, then big whoop. Find something else to do!
The Reasons: Clearly, this other person has something better to do. For your own good, so should you.
- Three hours is the average length of a regulation hockey game on TV.
- Three hours is the average length of time I can hang out with any one group of friends without alcohol.
- Three hours is the average length of a bad James Cameron flick.
- Three hours helps me keep the Rules of Three, well… three-related. Threelated?
- If you continue this lopsided conversation, one of two things will happen: either you will sell yourself short, or you will get stupidly demanding. Both of these equate to crazy. You are awesome; let no one convince you otherwise. But, there’s always room for improvement; don’t backslide by turning into a complete brat.
- By chasing, you decrease your value. Not only because you’re the fish that leaps into the boat, but also because god damn it, it’s Canucks vs Bruins and not much in the world is more important than this right now. In other words, if you don’t have it in you to allow your partner (or prospect) their individuality and freedom to pursue their interests, then you’ve got other shit you need to work on.
- By walking it off and doing your own thing, you are doing things to progress you and make you better than you were three hours ago. Whether that’s tidying your apartment, being a good parent to the dog/cat/hedgehog/iguana you adopted from a shelter, reading up on the latest goings-on with CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, or MacGyver’ing a beer bong out of a 2L bottle of Coke and your old aquarium siphon, you are contributing to the greatest cause you currently have: you.
- After three hours, you probably won’t give a crap whether or not you talk to this person right now; you’ll be too caught up being awesome.
Messaging Rule #3:
Serious, deep, ground-breaking, and emotional conversations should be held in person. Not over text. Unless you cry every time you wonder if you should hit the Mac’s on your way home to grab some Fudgesicles… in which case, again, you need more help than this blog can ever offer you.
- There is no font for sarcasm. Nor is there a font for sincerity, for devastation, for humbleness or being sick of someone’s shit. Wait… okay, that last one can probably be accomplished by keeping things in UPPERCASE.
- Communicating complex emotions is already a difficult task. Why on earth would you make it more difficult by constraining it to text? Give each other more to go on: body language, facial expressions, the way your voice cracks when you’re about to unleash a world of ruin on some poor schmuck’s well-deserving balls.
- If what you need to say is so important, you will make that importance known by exhibiting it yourself. You will adhere to its importance by making sure you say it in person, with every bit of sincerity and honesty you’ve got. Avoid the white noise and the shitty reception. Live performances are the only way to go.
- Because no one wants to tell their friends that the first time you said “I love you” was over Whatsapp, while they were waiting in line for the bathroom at a deadmau5 concert.
- It’s much, much easier to lie to someone over text. And as clever as you think you may be by using this to your advantage, remember that everyone else is well aware of this too. Still – there is the odd situation where it might be the easiest way to dispose of unwanted suitors (see Fig. 02 below).