Text Messaging – The Coward’s Way of Communicating

Text Message Coward Meme_5This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail on Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

If you’ve got something big to say, don’t say it in a text. It’s the coward’s way of communicating.

It’s the modern day equivalent of sending a pigeon with a note attached, when you know the person it’s intended for is at home, and lives just around the corner.

Don’t then follow up with an email, and pretend you’ve done enough.

That’s the equivalent of following up the pigeon with a smoke signal, when you know the person is still at home, and you’ve got no idea what happened to the pigeon.

Before you do anything, call the person. It should be the first thing you try, not the last. Unless the person does actually live around the corner, and you know that they’re home.Text Message Coward Meme_3

If they don’t answer their phone, leave a message asking them to call you back. Don’t leave the big something as a voicemail. That’s just the coward’s text, in another format. It’s a carrier pigeon masquerading as a smoke signal masquerading as a mailman, and is still no substitute for saying whatever have to say directly to that person.

If they repeatedly dismiss your messages and refuse to call you back, only then may you try something else. In this instance, they’re the coward made of yellow custard well past it’s used by date, and appealing to nobody ever.

Sending a text is really easy, and equally as easy to ignore. By calling the person, you’re telling them that you respect them enough to say the thing in person, and they’re respecting you, with their listening and replies.

So call the person, unless the person in question was born anytime after the year 2000. As while they may know how to use their phone to change the trajectory of a satellite, while instagramming a photo of waffles and liking a band that produces music on instruments made of organic cheese, they won’t have a clue what to do if the thing actually rings.

Also, by choosing not to say that big thing directly to the person, it’s way too easy to go way too far. You disregard whatever their position might be, and consider everything you’re thinking and feeling to be completely justified and spot on correct.Text Message Coward Meme_1

Say it directly to them, and watch how many of your previously thought out barbs wither away, as you realise how unfair or unnecessary they are.

If it’s bad news you’re delivering, you owe the person a chance to ask about it.

Instead of being involved in texting chain that stretches on pages and weeks, it’s far better for both of you to get it all done right there and right then.

Only once have I ever broken up with a girl via text message. Fourteen pages of texts later, I wasn’t sure what was happening, and I’d only replied twice.

One phone call cleared it all up, and two months later I broke up with her again. This time in person.

Text Message Coward Meme_4I’ve been the recipient of break up texts and emails far more than the once that I’ve done it to someone, and you feel like you’ve been ambushed, and then the sniper just instantly disappears, and you’re left holding all these huge emotions at a completely inappropriate place and time.

Exactly like being in a silent, open plan office sometime in the early afternoon, and letting out an involuntary squeak that’s halfway between a sob and a yelp.

Or just about to go onstage at a comedy gig in front of three hundred drunk men.

Or at Christmas lunch with your extended family, who have all already asked when your new girlfriend is going to arrive.

Of course all of these things have happened to me. In the past year.

The phone call rule doesn’t just apply to relationships, it applies to any big news you know it’s going to be difficult to share with someone, or they might not want to hear.

Even if you don’t want to, if you’re in a position where you have to tell someone something big, you have to make yourself available to them for whatever questions they might have, and whatever they might need to say.

It’s just another one of those things that proper adults do, and wimps always avoid.


Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Performing in Melbourne at The Butterfly Club Tue June 17 & Wed June 18 at 8pm.


His debut non-fiction book, ‘Mining My Own Business’ is available now.

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