3 Probably, Maybe Foolproof Rules of Texting
[Ed. note. Recently, the New York Times published an op-ed called “Texting With Boys,” where the writer described her lifelong experiences communicating with men via iMessage, GChat, and so on. It’s an, uh, interesting read. We asked our own resident texting expert, Tyler Daswick, to pen a humorous, satirical response–with plenty of false attribution and fake research–about digital communication.]
As the Men’s Health texting expert, I’ve been solidified as one of the most influential and authoritative voices in the country on all things IM, DM, and ZM (look it up). Despite 16 years of college and 7 honorary degrees from places like Eastern Alabama Tech–ever heard of it?–I’ve never come across anything as egregious and appalling as the Times’ “Texting With Boys” essay. I’m here to set the record straight and give you some real advice, because the so-called “authorities” over in Manhattan must be too busy updating their MySpace pages to care about the needs of modern guys.
The “Texting With Boys” writer spends most of the article explaining it was harder to text guys than she anticipated, citing anecdotes involving her 7-year-old nephew and a general tale of routine rejection. She crafts her own rules for communication (say ‘mm hmm’ a lot, text early and often, quote dead people), but they don’t help her, at least until she finds a guy that tolerates them. Overall, the article isn’t helpful in navigating the textual world. So on behalf of Men’s Health, I feel it appropriate to lay down some ground rules that everyone can follow when it comes to texting a person you’re interested in. This is a surefire way to lock down that next date, that next happy hour, or that next promotion.
Texting Rule #1: The Rule of Three
“I sent text after text — jokes and book recommendations and pictures of funny things I saw and, unsurprisingly, I did not get many second dates with many normal people.”
That’s a quote from the Times article. No kidding there was no follow-up—repeat texts are psycho. Did you know that in a recent study by the Serial Killer Research Council, it was found that American serial killers send an average of 4.6 texts in a row without a response? That’s a crazy stat. When you text, a single follow-up is fine, but any more violates the Rule of Three, and that’s a massive turn-off. This is science.
Texting Rule #2: The Links and Pics Relevancy Score
Here’s another quote: “The best way to make a boy like you was to provide numerous links to obscure songs and long interviews with dead authors.”
Not at all true. In 2005, sociologists came up with a concept called the “Texting Relevancy Score,” where they determine a multimedia text’s value based on its relevancy to the conversation. They found that some things have a higher inherent Relevancy Score than others. Placing in the top three: slam-dunk montage videos, monkeys in people clothes, and over-sized pieces of pizza. No matter what, no matter the situation or the context or the sender or the receiver, those sorts of pictures have maximum relevancy, which means they’ll always be a positive contribution to your text exchange.
Texting Rule #3: Virtual Listening
“This is what men want, I thought to myself. Just someone to sit and listen and say ‘Mm hmmm’ occasionally.”
‘Mm hmm’ is a terrible way to tell someone you’re paying attention. When you text, you don’t have the luxury of affirming your companion with smiles and nods, so you have to use more explicit strategies. ‘Mm hmm’ should not be your strategy, because ‘mm hmm’ is what you say when you’re really trying to blow someone off, and everyone knows it. Rocket scientists with the McQuincey Foundation for Super Smart People did a study where they looked at thousands of text responses, and the results showed that ‘woah,’ ‘no kidding,’ and ‘holy s*** brah you serious’ all scored way higher in terms of engagement than ‘mm hmm.’ The lesson: If you’re going to pretend to listen, pretend better.