The Jungle is a column that uses social media to explore the wild and woolly world of relationships.
One of the defining characteristics of Millennial relationships is the degree to which they happen in print. Texting (and its laptop proxy, direct messaging) has largely replaced phone calls, and, increasingly e-mails. This has broader implications for a generation’s language and communication skills, but what it often comes back to is dating, or, more specifically, hooking up: For better and worse, texting makes it all a lot easier.
As a just-barely Millennial, I was caught in the shift. My first dates were arranged by phone or in person, often after a three-hour late-school-night conversation. Now, a sweetly written text, while an ideal missive when I’m bored in a lineup, is supposed to stand in for the agonizing, vulnerable, scary work of talking to someone in order to date them.
One of my Twitter followers, @wendyrose709, e-mailed me about her relationship with a guy she has been hooking up with for a year and a half. “The magnetism between us is intense,” she wrote, although their pre-and-post sexual communication is done “solely through text messaging.” She adds “I always wonder what it would be like if texting didn’t exist… Instead of sending me naughty texts, he would actually have to say hello, like a human being instead of a robot.” I asked @jessecranin why he doesn’t call girls he likes – he uses a BlackBerry, so he gets a girl’s PIN instead of her number – and he tweeted “too awkward!”
@wendyrose709 wrote that she feels something is lost when “being nervous as hell and having to muster up the courage to talk to a girl,” is no longer integral to flirtation. (Me too.) Another Twitter follower, @missemilyrack, holds out for phone calls, which “limits the options, but [I] am hoping for higher quality results.” That’s what @stephaniefusco did; she tweeted “I used to be OK with texting, but the thing that set my BF apart was that he picked up the phone to ask” and “I think I got accustomed to texting and ‘hanging out’ vs. dating in university. A phone call was grownup, refreshing, ballsy.” Smart guy.
Follow Kate Carraway on Twitter: @KateCarraway
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