Kids with quick thumbs. Kids with quick wit. Put them together and you get teens texting a wide array of Seriously Funny Stuff.
But when those teens become college students and then young adults, are they still choosing hanging out over going out? The rendez-vous over “U” instead of “you” not to mention Facebook flirtation over meeting for a cuppa Joe?
Courting by text just may be “the new normal.” Likewise, the non-date. So says the New York Times in “The End of Courtship.” But they aren’t the only ones suggesting that our dating and mating rituals have changed.
According to the Times, which explains this phenomenon as something more than some of us might assume – technology-induced laziness – it appears that factors include finances, not to mention a psychological soft landing.
The article elaborates:
Traditional courtship – picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date – required courage, strategic planning, and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so, with texting, email, Twitter, or other forms of ‘asynchronous communication,’ as techies call it… In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm…
Personally, I agree with much of the above. However, “removing the need for charm?”
May I say again that my kids’ humor and personalities shine through in their communications?
I will add that this very topic was discussed last evening in the car, as I was driving my 19-year old college kid to the airport to catch a flight back to school.
The conversation arose out of reading an article in The Week, in which 75-year old actor Frank Langella is commenting on the fact that technology is allowing young people not only to court via text, but to make the first move – the very first move – without ever having seen one another.
Citing Langella, whose words originally ran in The Guardian (U.K.):
…I think walking up to a pretty girl at a party and saying, ‘How are you? I’d like to take you for a cup of coffee,” is much more exciting than, ‘Hey, I saw you last night at the whatever. Text me.’
Langella goes on to express his opinion that technology is interfering with intimacy. He references pre-texting days and says
You lusted for each other, loved each other… In the morning you made breakfast for each other, all the natural courtship things.
He laments the way sex has become all business. Get it done, move on to other things.
But sex as business is a bit off topic (or a matter of the third texting non-date?) – so let’s return to the issue of an initial encounter by text, and just how prevalent that might be. My sample of “one” is hardly representative, but I was curious to have a reaction, and I asked my son how he felt about using a text to meet a girl.
“It’s pretty normal,” he said.
Cue the Millennial Momma’s Look of Surprise.
“It’s fine,” he added. “But it’s more reasonable if you’ve actually met the person first.”
But my son added: “You can take more time to think when you use a text. But the response is more ambiguous. You’re not sure if it’s a yes or a no or where you stand.”
As for “hanging out” on Facebook rather than a more conventional date, theoretically, a person can find out a fair amount about their non-date by perusing friends, interests, and personal data. There will be photos that include family, activities, and a trail of status updates to indicate a sense of humor (or lack thereof), not to mention how – in general – this person relates to others.
Relates via digital media, that is.
And eventually – don’t you still have to meet in person?
The Times also explains the financial advantages of the “hang-out” over the “go out.” The typical dinner and a movie – even somewhere casual – can still run $50 to $100 for a single evening. That’s not so easy on a student’s budget or in a tough economy where few are flush with funds to pursue a social life.
I can’t help but recall my son’s experience with one girl in particular who had a habit of flaking. His feelings were bruised. And as the “bank,” I was peeved. He’d planned, laid out bucks (from the “bank”), not to mention made himself vulnerable – none of which she seemed to appreciate.
I admit that I’m reassured when I see my sons and their friends getting together. In recent weeks the streams of Winter Break College Kids (ages 19 to 22) have been in and out of this house. There’s plenty of texting and Facebooking (they don’t tweet), but they go to movies, they carry on articulate conversations, they go out to dinner and to parties where, I imagine, they’re continuing to text.
What I wonder is this. Are they texting from across a crowded room to someone who seems interesting? Are they hedging their bets by targeting more than one Future Object of Desire? How quickly will an opening line lead to a Real World Face-to-Face – and eventually, a conversation over that cup of coffee?