by Gina B.
I have fully embraced social media. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and, if you have something quick to tell me, I much prefer to receive a text message over a voicemail. In fact, most of my voicemail messages sit for three weeks before I hear them.
While it's amazing that information can move at the speed of sound, I believe that our personal relationships are being compromised by the excessive use of all of those wonderful technologies that take one away from the actual experience of life in real time. Although I love technology, I remain a conversation purist. There is nothing that will ever take the place of good one-on-one, voice-to-voice dialogue. There are fewer mixed-messages, and your point can be made without worrying about character limitations.
Cell phones and text message have their places, but there are times when the cell phone should remain in the pocket.
A few years ago, before I began dating my current boyfriend, I went on dates with at least four men who had unnatural attachments to their phones. A few of them answered the phone if it rang while we were together, but all were non-stop texting, as if they were getting paid for each 160-character sentiment.
The first was a guy that I call The Toddler. He earned this moniker by being young, and clinging to his phone as a toddler would a pacifier.
He was charming in the beginning and asked me out for dinner.
As we ate, The Toddler didn't have a lot of chatter for me, but he was apparently mystified by whomever was on the other end of his text exchange. After he hit 'send' on a message, he began wordlessly shoveling food into his mouth and staring at his phone in anticipation of a response.
I attempted to start some dialogue, hoping that his last text would be the last interruption of the evening. No such luck. He only paid attention to me until he received a reply to his text from Person X, which he read silently with a grin from a joke that I was clearly not in on, before he was back to pounding out a response with his thumbs.
It was like we were on two separate dinner dates. I was eating alone -- stewing in my anger over his audacity and blatant lack of respect. The Toddler, on the other hand, was having a great conversation -- with someone else.
After about 20 minutes, I couldn't help myself. I said, "Y'know . . . what you're doing is really rude."
He stopped typing and looked up from his phone, innocently, and said "Whaddya mean? You don't like your food?"
Was this guy clueless or what??? "The non-stop texting while we're having dinner? Do you think you could refrain for an hour while we eat? Maybe talk to ME instead?"
The Toddler waxed ridiculous about why he had to respond to his friend's text. Listening to his lame reasoning made me wish that he would just shut the hell up and resume texting. Which he did.
After our date, he texted to say that he had a great time. I left his text unanswered, and he sent a subsequent email, also left unanswered.
The next one-date wonder was similar to the Toddler in his phone attachment. I knew he was going to be a problem after we met when he texted instead of called, and attempted to facilitate our entire first (and last) date via text. Turns out he was more exciting on the 2.5" screen than he was in living technicolor.
After meeting a few more members of the textual revolution, I began wondering if it was me. Was I boring? Unengaging? Was I so unattractive that guys would rather gaze at their phones than look at me? Who knows? Maybe it was a combination of all of the above. Or perhaps I'd been meeting a series of duds.
I couldn't get my mind wrapped around the possibility of communicating with my man using acronyms, abbreviations and an assortment of emoticons. I decided to remain single for another long while as I searched for the perfect luddite, and then I met my current boyfriend.
Granted, we started out as friends and we weren't even thinking about dating in the beginning. Even as a friend, one of his selling points was that he actually discouraged me from texting him. And any man who wanted to have a real conversation was worth getting to know better.
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