A Grownup's Guide To Texting
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Get the Message1 of 11
By Denise Wolfe
It's hard to imagine a time before texting, when we were forced to call, send emails, even the occasional postcard. (Remember those?) Today, Grandma's texting, Dad's using emoticons and the whole world has gone topsy-turvy. To help you navigate texting in 2013, here are ten fundamental rules to follow.
Be Brief2 of 11
Anything much longer than 160 characters belongs in an email, or pick up the phone. As Maralee McKee, the Manners Mentor, says, "Think of texts as preludes or follow-ups to a conversation, not the conversation itself."
Show Up3 of 11
Texting is for quick questions and practical matters: "Chocolate fudge or Cherries Garcia?" You can also use it to let a pal know that you're stuck in traffic. But if you're going to be a no-show, pick up the phone and call. Texting to cancel plans is just plain rude.
ID Yourself4 of 11
Unless you're absolutely certain that the person whom you're texting has your number, spare yourself the awkward "Who's this?" by identifying yourself. Likewise, make sure that you clearly label your own friends, and recheck numbers to verify that you're texting the right person. It's very easy to click on the wrong phone book entry, especially when you know Bryan, Brian and Brad.
Make Faces5 of 11
Because texting is, at its best, brief, there's an ever-growing array of emoticons to help the texter convey tone. The smiley face, the sad face and the winking face are indispensable. Used sparingly, these "expressions" can head off potential misunderstandings and keep the mood friendly.
Shorten It6 of 11
In the world of texting, acronyms are almighty. It's fine to use familiar shorthand like LOL, BTW and FYI, but steer clear of obscure ones like RAEBNC (Read And Enjoyed, But No Comment). And while abbreviating "you" as "u" or "are" as "r" is acceptable, avoid "ur"—it could mean "your" or "you're." Abbreviations are meant to save time, not cause confusion.
Make the Call7 of 11
If there's ever any confusion over a text's meaning or any other possible tension between you and a friend or partner, quit typing and pick up the phone so you can start talking. Plenty can get lost in translation during a back-and-forth texting spat.
Save It8 of 11
"When it comes to texting, the medium truly is the message," writes Christopher Null in PCWorld. "It is almost never appropriate to conduct important conversations about relationships, major life events, or critical work issues via text message, where the conversation invariably comes off as flippant." Save the good news/bad news/sad news for face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice.
Mind Your Manners9 of 11
A casual thank-you via text—for, say, a cup of coffee—is fine. When you owe a bigger debt of gratitude—to the people who helped you move, for instance—take the time to call.
Party On10 of 11
Planning a dinner party? Don't group text your guest list. Instead, send an invitation the old-fashioned way—by email.
Wait for It11 of 11
Unless your text is urgent (like you're lost and need directions), be patient. Texting is not like paging someone—you don't always get an answer the minute you hit "Send." Don't text again and again (and especially don't email to announce that you sent a text).