Some back story first. I see Cracked has put together yet another great list. This time it’s 6 scientific reasons why break ups are bad for you. Their list:
Friends may copy you and damage whatever they’ve got going, even if it really was good between their partners.
You physically experience withdrawal symptoms because relationships create a high in the brain and when that person is gone, it’s seriously cold turkey time. No wonder people will often leap into rebound relationships so quick – anything for a fix…
Women risk loss of income when a relationship crashes. Guys (and gals, too, for that matter) risk prolonged loneliness that can last years and lead to drug or alcohol problems, or make an already bad habit worse. They’re not making it up; they’ve got a link to an Australian study where damage was tracked for years.
People who’ve been together for a while become interdependent from a personality standpoint and when divided, may have difficulty reestablishing where they end and their lost partner begins. It’s akin to that love is like 2 trees story I shared after my cousin’s wedding. They offer more links to more studies and articles.
Breakups are stressful enough to kill you. Adrenaline can lead to heart spasms that are akin to heart attacks, and if those are bad enough, they can actually damage the heart and increase risk of actual heart attacks.
Breakups are stressful enough to help something else kill or cripple you (arthritis, cancer) because prolonged depression affects not only the mind, but the body’s ability to stave off disease.
What’s all that got to do with texting etiquette? Not to sound like a Trekkie here, but that’s how the Man and I “reestablished contact” after That Saturday, and had a play in how I felt when I suspected That Saturday was a forgone conclusion.
Instant messaging has been around for a while. Old geeks and nerds may have fond memories of playing with IRC, or Internet Relay Chat. Some geeks and nerds probably still use it. I haven’t run mIRC (a shareware client designed for that) since university but on those rare occasions when my favourite talker’s server would go down (talkers were accessed using a telnet program instead), I knew I could head into IRC chat “rooms” to find some of the same people and continue our convos. Later came ICQ and MSN Messenger and other programs. Now we have the same ability to talk by text on our phones as well.
But the same problems that riddled that early text world crop up in the phone world now – just how do you express emotion and tone in a message without tone of voice to reassure the recipient that his or her interpretation of the message is an accurate one? Smilies exist solely as a method to attempt to emote, but they’ve never been an adequate replacement for a smile and a laugh or that pitch variance at the end of a sentence, for example.
Not just that, but how do you as the recipient know what reaction the sender was expecting? I’ve chatted online with some people who’d freak out if 5 minutes went by without an answer to some text question. Sorry I can’t take my PC to the bathroom with me, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. AFK, BRB… use them or lose a friend who gets offended easily, you know?
And how long is too long to wait before replying to a text? Does every text need a response? Does every sender expect a response? And when should one assume that no response is the response to what was written?
I don’t want to be one of those people who expects or demands constant contact from someone. I never have been one of those people; it’s odd that getting interested in a guy would alter that part of my personality, frankly. As one who can easily go years between chats with some people and never feel like a connection was lacking in the interim, this feeling I was getting, that “why hasn’t he responded yet?” bizarro stress, has been a real mental anguish and cause for confusion about his feelings for me, you know?
Should it be a source of stress? Rationally and realistically, I have to say no.
Everybody has a life and every life has shit going on and everybody has to deal with the shit on a daily basis – shit that’s far more important than replying to text messages the very instant they arrive. To expect a person to drop everything just to reply.. well, who made me Queen of the Universe?
I think it’s fair to say that this instantaneous world we’ve built for ourselves has really done a number on our ability to be patient and reasonable. I also think we are far more willing to over-react to non-events and make up illogical reasons to justify that over-reaction after it happens.
It’s not just this new text world that’s the problem. Think about all those 24 hour news stations. News from around the world at our fingertips. New stuff can be found via Google every minute. Not all of it is news. Not all of it is true or even worth repeating, either. And yet we’ll write about it, complain about it, build a podcast around it, and pass it all on like that’s also worth equal time.
Notice I’m not offering any solutions to this. I don’t have any, save “take a chill pill.” Tough love, I know. But I’m saying it to myself as much as I may say it to you. Rethink the reaction. Was it necessary? Was it more than the situation maybe warranted? If the answers are no and yes, how can you make sure the same mistake isn’t made next time around? Maybe there is no way. Is it even possible to learn from these kinds of mistakes? Humans have evolved to be irrational creatures, if Newsweek can be believed. Maybe we’re all doomed to freak out on the little things forever, and no number of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff type books will make a difference.