The Bitch Slap: A Text Message? Really…

bitch slap text messageWe talked about this already. You were going to put the phone down and plug into real, live human behavior. You were going to start acting like people acted before they started hiding behind technology.

You were going to stop being a pussy.

Some days I really lose faith in humanity. Sunday was one of those days. I got stood up for a 7:30am riding date. No call, text, carrier pigeon, smoke signal. Zip. Jack shit. But 2 hours later into my three-flat tire ride…

pling!

Text message. From the offender. Apologizing profusely.

FAIL.

You stand me up, you pick up the fucking phone and you CALL me. You do not type an apology. You do not send me an email. You would have only had to touch 10 numbers to reach me, but instead you hammered-out a 200 character text message to say you overslept?

HUMAN. BEING. FAIL.

I didn’t text back. To the first message OR the next two that followed – one later that day and the one that came last night.

Why?

Because if you don’t get that an apology requires you to tap into the human side of the communication process, there’s nothing I could type back that will have any impact whatsoever.

You can think I’m a bitch or add in a “Gee, Erika – no wonder you’re single” snide remark. Please – be my guest. But when someone disrespects you or hurts your feelings, do you want a digital “I’m sorry” coming your way?

We hide behind technology because we want to distance ourselves from the fallout of our actions. Whether actions were intentional or completely inadvertent, we’ve thrown a grenade. And we’re the ones who get to duck and run for cover? That’s complete bullshit. If you chuck the grenade, stick your head up over the fence like a grownup and take the blast. If you show up late for the office or don’t bother to call in to work, will your boss stand for a text message or email apology? I’m thinkin’ not. And I’m thikin’ you’ll have some ‘splainin to do, Lucy. There is no such thing as an iRelationship or iFriendship. Stop gnawing on the digital teat and start tuning in real, live human behavior.

And I get that taking the blast might not feel great (then again, what you did probably didn’t feel great, either), but you might end up with something that feels pretty great: a continued connection with a kickass person. And you’ll also show the person that you’ve got some balls. We suck at humbling ourselves. Which is why we should probably do it more often.

So I’ll ask you again: Put the phone down. Stop typing. Every type of communication has its place. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Let’s stop it.

You’ve been slapped.

PS: I’m a shameless vote whore – stop by and vote for The Redhead in Westword’s Best of the Web Awards 2010! (I’ve included a plug for one of my favorite blogs in there as well). It’s Denver’s coolest pop culture pub and shucks – it would be awesome to win!

PPS: No phones were harmed in the making of today’s Bitch Slap…

91 replies
  1. Paddy O'Furniture
    Paddy O'Furniture says:

    Wait a minute, you talked to them about this before? Yikes! I think as great as the Internet and social media are, they have turned us into anti-social beings. I recently read another dating horror story where the guy’s date spent a majority of the time texting someone else. Clearly she was disinterested, but people are taking the anonymity that they are afforded on the Internet and taking it out into the real world where repercussions are a bit more likely.

    Reply
  2. Marian Schembari
    Marian Schembari says:

    As usual, I heart this BIG TIME. Especially: “We hide behind technology because we want to distance ourselves from the fallout of our actions.” GOD THIS IS SO MOTHER FUCKING TRUE. While slightly off topic, I got some hate email yesterday from some chick telling me to “get a real job.” She called me pathetic and lame and unethical and a variety of other things, while proceeding to brag about her “real and impressive job” at a major publishing house.

    So of course I Googled her. She’s an effing intern. At a very small, dying publisher. I did a little more digging. I know girls like her. Girls who would never in a million years say that kind of shit to my face.

    So when people text their apologies or write hate mail or do all the things they don’t have the balls to do in person it makes me sick. But it’s the most cowardly, lame and loserish thing to do ever.

    I love technology. It pays my bills, I could do it all day and in my sleep. But sometimes (often) we need to step away from the cell phone or the laptop or the iPad and learn how to function with real people in real-time, face-to-face situations. That or we’ll be old and gray and lonely on our porches, tweeting away.

    Reply
  3. Killian
    Killian says:

    Text conversations was one of the first thing my marriage counselor bitchslapped us for doing. Communication is a lost art, though; I’m afraid that it may be a lost cause, as well. The technological age advances ever forward, and while the benefits are numerous, the drawbacks are almost as important. When my brother, who holds a doctoral degree, sends “I wud luv 2 c u l8r @ Moms” to my phone, I simply cannot even begin to formulate a reply. It just drives me bananas.

    But an apology needs to have a voice, inflection, and a tone. Otherwise, it becomes as much a mockery of the recipient as “Sry I sux” does.

    At the risk of seeming ocd, you’ve got a few typos near the end of the paragraph starting with, “We hide…”. =)

    Reply
    • The Redhead
      The Redhead says:

      FML typos! Fixed 🙂

      And yes – I’m a fan of complete sentences over text. Like Starbucks, please don’t make me learn a new language to communicate with you.

      And I love what you said: “an apology needs to have a voice, inflection, and a tone.” Yes. YES YES YES.

      Reply
    • Catman1975
      Catman1975 says:

      I’d like to say the first thing our marriage counselor told us to do was to communicate through email/text.

      Maybe we were a unique situation, but we couldn’t communicate, over a few years we didn’t know how to talk to each other. I know that is sad, but it’s true. I mean we would talk, but we were always reading into what the other person said and how their body language made us take what they were saying in the wrong way.

      Reply
  4. Scott Patton
    Scott Patton says:

    I’d maybe call you if I had your number – but I have to say you are a bit contradictory here. Instead of calling this person and telling them you were hurt/upset – aren’t you really hiding behind technology and blogging about it?

    Reply
    • The Redhead
      The Redhead says:

      I don’t feel it’s contradictory at all, but understand how you could see it that way, Scott.

      Person A felt that text messages were appropriate for an apology. And continued to send them when I did not respond. He never THOUGHT to call. Given it was date 2, it’s a pretty good indicator of who he is and how he communicates. I wasn’t hurt. Nor was I upset. I was stood up and it is what it is. And I still don’t feel that a text message is the way to apologize.

      See, I don’t have anything invested in the relationship with this person. If it were a person with whom I had more than a one date history, then I’d be picking up the phone and saying WTF. But in this case, it’s an example of what they feel is appropriate communication. I don’t feel the need to call him and “teach him a lesson.”

      But I can use it to craft a Bitch Slap post. 🙂

      Reply
      • Scott Patton
        Scott Patton says:

        With a little more information, I can see your point. A little clarification does clarify/remove most or all of the contraction.

        btw … this is why I typically ride alone or just go to existing groups I can join. I could write a bitchslap post on “If you say you are going to be there – BE THERE!”

        Reply
  5. Pop
    Pop says:

    I know someone whose bf broke up w/ her via text. She knew he didn’t have unlimited texting while she did, so she sent him–no exaggeration–2000 texts. Not sure what the rate is these days, but even at $0.10/pop, that was an expensive breakup. I think that was an appropriate response.

    Reply
  6. Brenna Smith
    Brenna Smith says:

    Dang it, Erika. I want to be like you when I grow up. I tend to be too lenient and turn the other cheek all the time, even when it would be warranted and understood to lose it. Had something eerily similar happen this weekend.

    Reply
  7. Chris Ledbetter
    Chris Ledbetter says:

    You. Nailed. This. One. Spot on Erika. Loved This Post. What a d-bag. Technology has turned a lot of people into pussies… (your word, not mine 😉 If i had your number I would have called you to tell you what I’m writing here. I absolutely adore your candor!

    Reply
  8. StaceyHood
    StaceyHood says:

    I’m not on my phone that much and texting to me is a bit foreign. I think you nailed it when you said that we use technology to hide behind. That’s why people can say things online that they’d never say in real life for fear of repercussions; physical or otherwise.

    Reply
  9. Francis
    Francis says:

    OUCH!! What is worse too is I believe we have lost the human touch!! We no longer deem it necessary for eye contact during conversations. We have made it “ok” for the other person to type on their Ipad or phone during a conversation or meeting and I must be alone but I like eye contact!! Put your phone down to talk to me!! Thanks for letting me vent! 😉

    Reply
  10. mary
    mary says:

    You are so right! Texting has it’s place, but an apology should require a voice.
    I was trying to think of other times when texting would be wrong; proposal of marriage? announcing a death? certainly a break-up? comment from husband that my butt looks big in these jeans? etc!

    Reply
  11. Zohar Laor
    Zohar Laor says:

    Hello Erica,
    Marian Schembari turned me onto this site.

    I actually don’t have a regular cell phone, I figured I need my $600 a year more than the cell phone companies. I have a pre-paid cell phone (< $100 / year) which only my wife is allowed to call me on, everyone else can wait (if someone accidentally gets that number I won't answer nor retrieve messages). There is nothing in this world that can't hold off for a day or at least an hour or two but this whole "connected all the time" attitude creates a plethora of artificial emergencies because every little thing that is not taken care of immediately becomes urgent.

    When I did have a regular cell phone it quickly became annoying because people thought I was obligated to answer and / or respond to communications. I kept telling everyone that a cell phone is a convenient way for me to reach others, not for others to reach me.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

    Reply
  12. Nona Schulz
    Nona Schulz says:

    I am not even sure that I think a phone is an appropriate way to apologize. Face to face, person to person. So the injured can see the contrition in your face.

    Reply
  13. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    As far as I’m concerned, a text message is just a glorified telegram. There’s a reason why the telegram went the way of the dodo…

    It’s time we moved past the technology and we went back to real interaction. I closed my FB account about a year ago because I was tired of those virtual, fake “friendships.” I want to be able to see, hear, touch, smell people (OK, I don’t need to taste them). Time people relearned social skills and real interaction instead of those sanitized exchanges with people we strike off our list of “friends” the minute they’re no longer convenient, no longer the Barbies and Kens we want them to be. Unlike some people here, I don’t want to grow up and I don’t want to be Erika, I just want to be *me*, warts and all.

    Reply
  14. Antriksh Satyarthi
    Antriksh Satyarthi says:

    I ALWAYS tell this to people. Just cause you have GREAT technology at your disposal to make life a lil easier, DON’T overuse it !!! Somethings just deserve that personal touch.
    On a more practical note, emails and texts have high chances of being misinterpreted. I mean the sincerity of a ‘sorry’ or the gratefulness in a ‘thank you’ just cannot be enveloped in a text, irrespective how many smileys one makes.

    btw The Bitch Slap, my most loved part of your blog. I just love the sarcasm & the tongue in cheek humor, withoutr offcourse deviating from a real point.

    Reply
  15. Amber Garner
    Amber Garner says:

    I completely agree! I’m as guilty as the next person of having a conversation via text that probably warrants a phone call, but only because of the length of the conversation- if it’s truly important, I at least call. Texting is so apathetic, lazy and detached.

    Reply
  16. Extreme John
    Extreme John says:

    That rant made me feel good and it’s not even something that happened to me. I like texting better then calling, I like email better then calling, even ICQ if I need to go old school. All though I wouldn’t use any of those forms of communication to apologize for anything along those lines. Great rant.

    Reply
  17. PJ Mullen
    PJ Mullen says:

    That is just douchey to not ring the digits. Text messaging grinds my gears. If my brother didn’t live 30 minutes away from me I’d wouldn’t know what his voice sounds like because all that kid does it flipping text me. Some days it makes me want to toss my iPhone in the trash, but then my son couldn’t play Angry Birds 🙂

    Reply
  18. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    I’ve never had an experience like this, but I *have* recently started restoring and fixing bikes, so that’s what caught my attention. Nothing like a little focus on the minutia.

    Barring a ride by a school or office supply store where a shipment of tacks had spilled, two or three flats on the same tire means you should check your rim strip. It’s a cheap and easy fix, and may save you a trip to the bike doctor.

    (Apologies if you already know this, but before I got into the hands-on fixing, it probably would have taken me a while to catch on. Even though I had no car, and so commuted to work and school via bike and serviced a few flats myself. Maybe blondes just really are more dense . . . )

    Reply
    • The Redhead
      The Redhead says:

      LOL – it was a goathead that had broken off and missed every sweep I gave the tire. My mechanic found it just fine. After turning the tire completely inside out 🙂

      Reply
      • Melanie
        Melanie says:

        Having grown up in San Franisco and now biking around Wisconsin, I was unfamiliar with this brutal plant. But, apparently (thank you Google) it’s touted as a sex drive booster. Then again, what isn’t?Props to your mechanic!

        Reply
  19. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Great post, as always. We need to remind that it is not just the adult-to-adult communication that needs to get back to being personal. Adult-to-child and child-to-child needs that face-to-face time as well. I can go on and on about cyber bullying in schools for instance, or the number of times parents pick up their kids while still attached to the cell, then tell their kids to be quiet when the kid tells them about school, but I won’t, for now. Kristen.

    Reply
  20. Guest
    Guest says:

    Your blog post, about the emotional convenience of hiding behind technology, is halfway to the truth. The full story is that our culture has taught/is teaching that all relationships are transient and disposable, and that the only thing that really matters is how YOU feel about it….not about how THEY feel about it. The *problem* with this seemingly winning strategy of “all about me” is that in a world of people following this approach, it’s never going to be about you for anyone else.

    If you can’t think first of the consideration of others, then you really have no place asking for their consideration of you.

    If you curse continously because you like it even though others don’t, you have no place hoping that others don’t speak in offensive ways to you.

    If you steamroll over others who might want to take the time to know you because YOU are in a hurry, you have no place hoping others don’t act equally inconsiderate of your desires in a realationship.

    So. Your blog post is halfway there…you made it to the “it’s their fault” part. Now, for full credit, you should examine the “how else do I act in the world that is inconsiderate of others.”

    Cheers and best of luck with the insight.

    Reply
    • The Redhead
      The Redhead says:

      By the way – author with email address “jkdfjkdfjkdfjkd@yahoo.com” – this is not a valid email address. I check that shit 😉 There are no “fly by” comments on this blog. You actually made some nice points and I’d love to publish it…when you own up to who you are. Being anonymous isn’t an option on my blog. Sorry!

      Reply
        • The Redhead
          The Redhead says:

          Actually, I’m not a joke. Your previous entry came back unvalidated. I’m happy to post your original comment. And there’s no need to be an ass about it. You come to my blog, there’s no email address verification, I test it, it comes back unvalidated – I have the right to withhold the comment. Hat tip and g’day!

          Reply
    • The Redhead
      The Redhead says:

      So, now that your comment is live and profile validated by a VERY slow Disqus system this week, you’re certainly entitled to your perspective on what this post was about.

      Certainly, we tend to think of ourselves first – it’s how we see the world. However, this post wasn’t an “all about me” strategy. It’s *about* not taking someone else into consideration. And prompted by such.

      Relationships may be borne via electronica, but they’re developed through interaction. Development of empathy. Sympathy. Familiarity. And as each post on this site is a result of my experiences on this mortal coil – ME is all I’ve got. My friends, my family, my colleagues, my life. If more people took the time to understand how their actions influenced others, I’m venturing to guess there’d be a lot fewer text messages and emails sent and a lot more phone calls and face-to-face time. Y’think? And that’s what I’m advocating. Less plugging in. More unplugging and interaction.

      Reply
      • anonymous
        anonymous says:

        I see you’ve missed my point entirely, but I suppose it is impossible to think differently, or to hear differently, often.

        This thing you say:

        “Certainly, we tend to think of ourselves first – it’s how we see the world. However, this post wasn’t an “all about me” strategy. It’s *about* not taking someone else into consideration.”

        First of all, it assumes that everyone thinks of themselves first…..which they don’t. That is my point. Second, the line, “It’s *about* not taking someone else into consideration.” would be more clearly worded if you substitute the word “me” for the words “someone else”.

        That is what your blog posting is about. It is about *you* not getting the consideration you believe you deserve. It is not about “someone else”.

        My point again: If you can only look at the world from the perspective of “how do *I* feel”, then you will find yourself in a world in which everyone cares only for themselves, and is as inconsiderate as the person whose behaviour you documented in your blog post.
        What’s that? You documented TWO people’s behaviour? The unnamed texter’s and YOURS? Did you not realize that?

        You had other choices, even if you don’t see them, or like them:

        1. text OR PHONE the person who didn’t show up at the time. As an adult and as a person, you could call them and say, “I’m here, where are you?”. You may not like this option; you may feel that it somehow weakens you to call someone who is a no show.

        2. You could ask the person if some issue came up, or if this is a habit that they have, or if there is some reason that they didn’t show…even if it is because they were upset with you for something else, and did it to spite you. Even if they did it deliberately because they secretly hate your taste in shoes. Whatever. The point is that you could make a decision, as an adult, whether this is someone you want to make plans with now, or later, or often, or never.

        3. You’ve reacted in continuous petulance to their repeated attempts to contact you by not responding….because that is how YOU FEEL. Perhaps you wish to somehow extract emotional revenge because of the perceived slight? By acting petulantly? This benefits either of you in what way, exactly?

        My point is that you create the world you live in, with the choices you make, and the point of view you make it with. Choosing the others’ point of view gives you the chance to understand another, and gives them the chance to make amends……..these are the things that create the bonds that are real relationships.

        Going silent, being petulant, discarding the other person because you can only focus on how you feel ————- creates a world of people that will, in turn, not care how you feel.

        Paradoxically self -destructive result of the “all about me” approach.

        Cheers.

        Reply
  21. Matt
    Matt says:

    LOVE this post L.O.V.E – LOVE! I consider texting (and email) the lowest form of communication. Convenient. Sure. Good for the occasional ‘I’ll be there in 5 mins’ update. Absolutely! But I despise cyber pussies/tough-guys/victims who use text and email to complain, break bad news, argue or just be a whiny little bitch, when you know they would never *ever* pick-up the phone or say it to your face. Character is determined by how you deal with difficult situations, not the easy ones.
    Thanks for sharing and the opportunity for me to vent…. ironically, via web posting. 🙂

    Reply
  22. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    I admit I have hidden behind technology many times… But not when it is IMPORTANT…. I didn’t quite get all of the story until I read all of your awesometastic comments… I originally was wondering why you didn’t call or at least text a bitch slap… But now I get it… You’re definitely better off me thinks 🙂

    Reply
  23. Greg Smith MD
    Greg Smith MD says:

    Erika,

    We are trying to teach out kids, especially the youngest at nineteen, that tech is very cool, but real people and real relationships are what’s really important. I think that the younger generation today is so plugged in that they may be losing out on how to be social in a real way.
    Great post, as all of yours are. Keep up the good work.

    Greg

    Reply
  24. patty
    patty says:

    Ha ha, I thought of you the other night when I ran into an ex-friend who shocked me with one of the finest douchebag impressions I have ever seen… over a year ago. He matched and topped his previous performance with…….”Oh hi, by the way, I’ve been meaning to apologize to you for that one night.”

    ……Ha ha ha, really? Man, you must have been meaning so hard, so hard, it pains you every day that you don’t accidentally run into me. Perhaps you misunderstand the word, “meaning,” and you confuse it with wondering why you are this particular brand of douchebag that squirts all over itself in pitiful attempts for attention. Bump into you enough times, and you’ll eventually spit apologies to cover your spew of self-contempt.

    Reply
  25. Jill Manty
    Jill Manty says:

    Is it sad if I admit that I’m practically a moron when it comes to texting? I’m perfectly happy to pick up a phone– or even send an email– but I don’t get the appeal of typing on a tiny keyboard unless all other avenues are unavailable.

    Reply
  26. Leon Noone
    Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Erika,
    Couldn’t agree more. I wont bore you with the details. But if you go to my blog managingemployeeperformance.com you’ll find a piece about how I believe that so called modern communications technology is really stuffing up communications at work.

    Keep having fun.

    Regards

    Leon

    Reply
  27. Corey Nelson
    Corey Nelson says:

    I’d say that the lack of contact for 2 hours was in bad taste regardless whether or not the apology was via text. I see your point. However, there is some irony inherent in your using an electronic medium to rant about something instead of addressing the individual him/herself using “human behavior.” And since when did technological dependency preclude human behavior? Last I checked technology is the biggest differentiator between human behavior and non-human behavior, i.e. animal behavior.

    I’m sure people in the early 20th century before digitization would have done similar things that annoyed you, too. I think you’re sort of indulgent in thinking this is a problem unique to, or created by, electronic media or some dependence on current technology. I could go on – I’m not trying to personally criticize you though, just point out that you may be overindulging some nostalgic notions about the pre-digital era.

    Reply
    • The Redhead
      The Redhead says:

      Understood. But what I don’t get is taking 200 characters to type a message to me on the same device that dials my number 🙂

      And how would you prefer I rant – in a phone call? People show themselves for who they are soon enough. It was clear to me that after THREE texts, the phone wasn’t going to ring. Hence, he gets a Bitch Slap ;-).

      Prior to cell phones and texting and email, people phoned. That’s what they did (or didn’t). Is that an overindulgent statement or one of fact?

      Reply
      • Corey Nelson
        Corey Nelson says:

        It’s a factual statement, BUT the ethos behind it and for which it is offered as supporting evidence appears to be predicated on some assumptions (or observations, perhaps, from your point of view) I asserted were overindulgent.

        Given: We agree it was rude, and that humans are pretty darn good at (unintentionally or otherwise) figuring out new ways to be rude to each other. Given: new technology plays a role in this.

        However, etiquette is ever-changing and where you and I differ is that you seem to treat the phone as a standard or agreed-upon “polite gesture” (at the very least – we may differ still more in our concepts of whether those standards *ought* to be static).

        I remember my mother complaining about people doing something rude and apologizing over the phone. Maybe she wanted them to write a letter; maybe she wanted a face-to-face acknowledgment. I don’t know. But for the sake of argument, [your concept of phone call]:texting::[my mother’s concept of letter-writing]:phone calls. Who’s correct? Both? Neither?

        Before you worry about answering that question, let me say that I derived the impression of “over-indulgence” from your generalizing of your own personal ethos, which you can indeed apply to your own interpersonal situations as you apparently did, into a proscriptive rant. It’s probably less cathartic to append your statements with “at least in my case” or other qualifiers, I realize :-).

        That said, in reply to whether I’d prefer you rant on the phone, I was just observing what I perceived to be an inconsistency between your insistence on people addressing you with more direct, “human” means, and your own choice to vent using an electronic medium…which, to boot, wasn’t even addressed to the person. I don’t know your situation at all, though, so at least part of my observation is based on my bias that interpersonal issues need to be resolved, first and foremost, interpersonally. If I cared enough to rant, sure I’d rant, but I’d certainly care enough to address it with the individual too…or why bother ranting? Your mileage may vary.

        Thanks for the thought-provoking discussion.

        Reply
        • Corey Nelson
          Corey Nelson says:

          Two things I kind of skipped over: one, the discussion of whether or not etiquette needs to be elevated to the status it is in rants such as yours is a separate one…in disclosure, my own approach is utilitarian rather than absolute. I see etiquette as important, but not inviolable, and sometimes a breach occasions improved mutual understanding.

          Second, even if we take it on faith that etiquette ought to be elevated to a proscriptive level, I would assert that due to rapid changes in communication, one ought to anticipate problems and discuss them (much as we are now). Where I seem to differ with you is that in my limited perspective, this person’s actions appear to be based on ignorance of your personal standards. It seems like if you valued his friendship otherwise, it’d be worth explaining and then you’d probably see eye to eye.

          Now, all that said…I absolutely get the impulse to rant, and I see this as an opportunity for a cool discussion, not an opportunity to try to prove you wrong. I don’t totally disagree.

          Reply
  28. Bryanb
    Bryanb says:

    Guilty as charged. But on second thoughts it would not have saved the friendship I was involved in if I had called or sent flowers or asked in person. Being human lies in comprehension that others can be different, not throw which media we communicate. I’m not doubting your humanity here.

    Reply

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