Young and old, male and female, American, Asian or African -- everybody relies on cell phones these days, both for making calls and increasingly for sending and receiving text messages.
And text isn't just for business. A recent Lavalife poll asking members whether they'd ever engaged in "text sex" revealed that of approximately 5,400 respondents surveyed, 30% of males and 40% of females admit to having engaged in the practice, "OMG - all the time."
(In case you're wondering, 31% males and 32% females surveyed answered "NFW - like, never" while 39% of males and 28% of females answered "text wha?" Women are evidently leading the text pack.)
Indeed, text is especially useful in the dating world where anything that facilitates easier communication is a gift. But technology always seems to open the door to additional questions. Is there such a thing as text etiquette?
The short answer is yes though what is perceived as proper or improper behavior might well be generational.
After all, twentysomethings who've virtually grown up around cell phones and text technology are certain to be more casual about its usage than those who've come to it later in life. Still, some general guidelines apply.
With input from Nathan Ciprick, Lavalife's mobile phone guru (actually, his business card says Leader, Product Development Manager) we've come up with some can't-miss tips for using text technology like a pro. A successful dating pro.
1. Breaking a Date
Is it OK to break a date via text message? This is one of those instances where your answer probably depends on your age. Younger people who are fully acclimatized to text technology likely think a quick message indicating that something has unexpectedly come up is no biggie, where older users might think a phone call is in order.
In this instance, the best advice is common sense. If the date you are breaking is the very first (and you have a very good reason for breaking it), text is probably not the way to go. If however, you are breaking a date with someone you've been seeing a while -- someone who knows you have manners and wouldn't cancel unless you really had to -- a quick text is probably fine.
2. Following up a Date
Another recent Lavalife poll asking whether a friendly post-date text message (say, on your way home from the date) was creepy or cool overwhelmingly returned votes of "cool." In fact, a whopping 77% said a quick text was just fine. Clearly, the old "three day rule" about waiting three days before contacting a date (even a good one) does not apply in our caffeinated modern times.
In this scenario, text is very handy. Daters can cut to the chase and make their positive feelings known without having to think on the spot about scheduling the next date. A simple "Thanks that was fun. CU again soon!" says it all.
3. Watch the Language
"The thing about text," says Lavalife's Ciprick, "is that it's so convenient and right there that people sometimes forget it creates a permanent record. On the plus side, a quick text message can act like perfume, reminding you of a person in a positive way. On the other hand, negative stuff is there forever."
That includes profanity, things written in anger (ALL CAPS!!!!), stupid things dashed off without forethought and all the rest. The point here -- just because text is easy doesn't mean it lacks the potential freight of an email or phone call. If you wouldn't call someone up on the phone and say it to their ear, don't text it to their Blackberry. Also, an economy of language counts, so choose your words carefully; be concise and succinct.
4. Watch the Frequency
Because texting is so simple and quick, it's easy to get carried away. As a general rule, make sure the number of messages sent equals the number of messages received. If you have sent a couple of messages without receiving a response, it could be that the messagee is away from the phone... or not interested in replying. Just because you can send a million messages a second doesn't mean you should.
Similarly, if the message you hope to convey isn't urgent, time-sensitive and can't be broken down into a few short, easily digestible passages ("You won't believe this but I just saw a guy dressed as a clown with a real parrot sitting on his shoulder riding down the street on a unicycle while juggling oranges!") wait until you see them in person to pass the story along.
Cameras in phones were once the must-have option, but are now considered standard fare; some are even pushing three megapixels these days. Which means practically everyone has a camera with them at all times. But should you capture every moment? Just because you can snag a pic of your friend drooling while they doze on a road-trip doesn't mean it's prudent. Worse still, you pass that photo onto friends or a social networking site and that embarrassing moment will stick to them forever.
When taking a shot of yourself for your Lavalife profile, lots of bright light (more than you'd normally think necessary) is also crucial for taking a share-worthy camera photo given the inferior cameras found in most phones. Plus, framing with a camera phone is just as important as with a regular camera. If you're taking a shot of yourself in a mirror, watch where you hold the camera when you line it up, otherwise you'll have a nice shot of your phone where your face should be!