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…

90 comments
Bryanb
Bryanb

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.

Corey Nelson
Corey Nelson

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.

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

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

The Redhead
The Redhead

That's okay. There are times the concept baffles me, as well :) Thanks for stopping by! (go DIALING!)

Jill Manty
Jill Manty

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.

Vamika Shekhawat
Vamika Shekhawat

*sigh* I miss the time when one had some work or needed to talk would almost always land up at home rather than picking up the cell and blurting out all the story in 200 characters. :P

The Redhead
The Redhead

Patty - you're cracking my ass up :)

patty
patty

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.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Greg - thanks for stopping by (and way to go with the kiddos!). Always great to see you here :)

Greg Smith MD
Greg Smith MD

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

Shelly
Shelly

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 :)

Matt
Matt

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. :)

Guest
Guest

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.

Kristen
Kristen

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.

Melanie
Melanie

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 . . . )

PJ Mullen
PJ Mullen

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 :)

Ken Brand
Ken Brand

You tell it ALL as you see it. That doesn't happen much, anywhere, as far as I can tell.

Extreme John
Extreme John

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.

Amber Garner
Amber Garner

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.

Mark Aaron Murnahan
Mark Aaron Murnahan

I was able to reach you by phone. Yep, your phone still works! Just checking. Enough said.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for adding the point about misinterpretation. Live human interaction shows what digital communication (outside of a Skype call) cannot: emotion in action.

Tessa Harmon
Tessa Harmon

Um, guilty. Thanks for the slap. Technology is definitely a crutch for my social anxiety...which I need to work harder to overcome.

Antriksh Satyarthi
Antriksh Satyarthi

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.

Sarah
Sarah

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.

Nona Schulz
Nona Schulz

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.

Zohar Laor
Zohar Laor

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

mary
mary

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!

Francis
Francis

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! ;)

Eli Reichman
Eli Reichman

A great response to our insular behavior. You should slap like this more often.

StaceyHood
StaceyHood

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.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Different people communicate in different ways - and if written communication ENHANCED your ability to relate, I think that's a beautiful thing :)

Catman1975
Catman1975

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.

Lisa E
Lisa E

Love this..it's great! Bitch slap away...they deserved it!

Brenna Smith
Brenna Smith

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.

Chris Ledbetter
Chris Ledbetter

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!

Jaimie B. Field
Jaimie B. Field

Fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you - and being broken up with via text is another one that deserves more than the Bitch Slap (which recently happened to me).

Mike Masin
Mike Masin

Yep, call, talk, and connect, person to person; not keyboard to screen. Own the problem before it owns you.

Pop
Pop

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.

Scott Patton
Scott Patton

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?

Killian
Killian

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...". =)

Paddy O'Furniture
Paddy O'Furniture

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.

Marian Schembari
Marian Schembari

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.

Danielle Smith
Danielle Smith

Wow. A text? I'm with you. That is offensive. Hoping they pick up they phone and CALL soon.

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