hey, it’s _______ how r u? much bets by fone!
For anyone who is thankfully not in the awful online dating world, this is actually how it all starts. I mean, not really: it starts by filling out an online profile; by answering some questions about your favourite animal and whether women’s rights are more important than a national housing program; and then by a few messages back and forth through the program with random people you’ve selected based on how many and how intriguing their photos are. Eventually you move up from there (more quickly now, based on the completely unofficial polls I’ve done of my friends who online date), and you graduate to the texting.
And – all gods – the texting.
Graduate is the wrong word. Graduate implies that there is some expectation of the quality of messages you may or may not receive, or may or may not send. Graduate implies some sort of threshold passed; in the case of online dating, probably the fact that you’ve come across as not completely psycho and not completely boring. Of course, graduate is also a pretty big word. In fact, it’s three whole syllables. It’s 6% of the allowable limit on a tweet. It’s clearly something beyond so many people’s comprehension.
Can we just jump back to the opening line for a second here? “Fone”? Really?? It’s not even that much shorter than spelling the whole word: phone. You’ve saved one letter. A whole letter. Also, phone is already an abbreviation. The word is telephone. Telephone. You’ve just abbreviated an abbreviation. What the hell are you doing? Are you … do you think this is clever? Is that what this is? Because, yes, it is really blowing my mind. You are blowing my mind.
And let me be totally clear here, because I really feel like I need to spell this out for you: you are blowing my mind, and it is not in a good way.
I’m going to admit something which you’ve probably already gathered by now: I am not a huge fan of text speak. In fact, it really gets on my nerves. I have friends who do it, who text me the “where r u” or the “ur right”, and I cringe on the inside but let it pass because they are my friends and I know that I have screened them to be so for a reason.
I let it pass because I have screened them. Because I know my friends have amazing qualities and traits that I respect, that think for themselves and do amazing things and are so interesting on so many levels that if they have small individual quirks, like a preference for single letter words, then so be it. They are my friends, and I will accept that. And they will accept that I will respond back with insanely long messages, because I hate to abbreviate words or thoughts into “ur”. Or “fone”.
But buddy? We’ve never met. We haven’t even got to that point yet. You’re still trying to impress me. You’re still on my “not sure if you’re a total psycho” radar. I don’t know anything about you. I’m still trying to learn, from your texting and the speed of your replies and whether you take charge or stand back or send one message or five. I’m still trying to figure you out so I can tell if I’m comfortable with you. You’re trying to tell me things, with these messages. You’re trying to convey that you really are the most awesome person I’ve ever met, and that I really should get to know you. You’re trying to tell me that I would be missing out by not at least meeting you for a drink. You’re trying to tell me that you’re fun and relaxed and like to have a good time, but that there’s still something more that I just can’t put my finger on yet and so should probably meet you in person just to find it out.
You’re trying to do all that – you are – and you’re doing that with “how r u? much bets by fone!”
I’m past the point of not intrigued. I am repulsed. I am overreacting. I’m a lot of things but, I guarantee you, I am not curious. I am not particularly interested in responding, and going through the motions, and picking a place and a drink and you can tell me about how you chilled with your friends on the weekend and it was “gr8”. I don’t want to hear about your job, and how you “wrk 2 live, u know?”
THIS IS NOT A CONVERSATION. In fact, it used to be called shorthand. It is what secretaries used to translate dictation. Which they later converted back to proper English and typed into fully constructed sentences. The secretaries then sent off the typed, real, communications to other people, in order to have conversations and start or continue a dialogue with them. The shorthand was a memory aid for them. It was a way for them to communicate with themselves, not with other people.
Somewhere, along the fone lines of history, you got the message wrong. Start over again. Remember that we haven’t met. Remember that this is my introduction to you. You are introducing yourself to me, and you can either show me how much you want have a conversation with me, or how much you’re effectively having a conversation with yourself.
And, just for anyone who might be curious, my online dating profile now reads: “Can you formulate a proper sentence? If yes, please text. If no – l8tes!”