Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Drunk Dialing vs. Drunk Texting

No, I'm not getting on a "this vs. that" trend here, but having enthusiastically shoved my proverbial foot down my proverbial throat several times of late with consistently disastrous results, I felt the need to raise a warning flag for the rest of you.  (Maybe a warning sheet of paper: scrawl the words "DON'T PRESS SEND TILL RE-READING TOMORROW MORNING!" and tape it to the side of your monitor -- on the side nearest the send button.)

Now you all know what I'm talking about, but what strikes me is the distinct difference between the drunk dialing we used to fall prey to in the past and today's emails, or worse, texts from cell phones in restaurant washrooms and crowded clubs.  I suspect that the core difference is the risk of the other person actually picking up the phone.  That risk, however slight (along with the vague notion that it's going to be your voice she/he is going to be listening to versus letters strung together), does prevent most of us from drunk dialing -- at least until we are REALLY inebriated.

Drunk texting, however, seems somehow safe, creative....erudite, even!  You get the opportunity to stab away at the keys, erasing and inserting (or often not, though you should!) until you become convinced that, despite the crippled syntax and odd phraseology, your words are poetry, your paragraphs (usually just one really loooooong paragraph) are a work of editorial genius. 
"Oooo!  I think I really nailed my pointsh wish that one!  He/she'sh going to think I'm sho inshightful!"  

For reasons I don't fully understand, if you actually get through to the same sober or sleepy person via the phone, you are going to get "cut some slack".  They'll chide you, laugh and give you a hard time the next day, but with drunk texting, not so much.  With the latter there's a hard cut, not a soft fade.

Which brings me to a related issue, what is up with how we read/interpret the written word vs. vocal/live communication?  While people seem to treat dating profile content pretty much with a grain of salt (I regularly get mail/winks/nudges/smiles from women who clearly either haven't read it, or believed I wasn't serious, see post below), the same people (and I've heard this from women about men almost as often as the reverse) will hyper-analyse a few words of text to the point that they become convinced you're a serial killer, moron or Stage 5 Clinger (click for clip of the movie reference).  The result is bizarrely consistent: "block user".

Face to face or on the phone you'll give that same person tons of 'benefit of doubt', yet the same words in text, even surrounded by multiple smiley/winky faces, carry a completely different message.  Yes, "emotional nuance", we're social, face-to-face creatures, blah, blah.  Hey, I'm one of the biggest promoters of that reality, but I suspect there's something else going on related to the same "click-delete" phenomenon we see with online dating.

Recently I've been entertained by the chronicles of a talented writer who is female and single, but hasn't fallen prey to the allure of online (she doesn't have to, she's cute and in her early 30's!).  I have to say she's onto something: out every night meeting guys out in the real world, giving out her number, 'pashing', dancing, having one night stands and developing crushes on bad and good boys.  Past a certain age she, too, will not have the energy or interest in being out all the time, but her experiences remind me of how we're most naturally going to meet prospective mates we are either instantly attracted to, or not.

Online dating is a really, really bad idea, with it's preternatural reliance on the written word and self-censored/edited photos, it runs counter to human nature, yet for most of us past our early 30's, it seems to be the only way to meet people without going through the torturous rigamarole of getting hammered night after night and making some poor (but fun!) short-term choices.  It would be so nice if someone would come up with a better, largely sober, social way to meet adults in person....

I'm playing with a concept, but I suspect it needs a LOT more allure to work well, an irresistible gimmick/hook.  (Working on it!)  Here's the link to contribute your two cents worth: Face to Face Connections.

(And trust me on this, NEVER, ever drink and text!)

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