Texting For Dummies

Chatting with some people can be awfully boring. Like have you ever chatted with someone and mid conversation the thought of watching paint dry seemed like a plan? Well, such people exist.

Some time back I met an incredibly interesting chick at a party. You know those people you meet for the first time and hit it off immediately like you’ve known one another your entire lives, right? Fiona was that awesome. Honestly, I could swear I knew her in another life. We were totally in sync.

After the party we exchanged numbers and I knew Fiona and I would be the start of something good. I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.

Fiona at the party wasn’t Fiona on phone. Our conversations on phone, texts to be precise were headed nowhere. Our conversations were static. The lack of flavour in our conversations was so bad I began to think I had a problem. Like maybe I was boring and Fiona had become disinterested. I wasn’t the problem. Fiona was.

I concluded this after analysing our correspondence for a week. Fiona’s phone persona wasn’t the Fiona I met in person. What I got in person is not what I got over the phone.

You’ve probably met people like Fiona in your life, right? And you are wondering what their problem is, aren’t you?

Well, the problem is some people are just poor at texting. Yet the norms for one on one conversation also apply to text messaging. Strange, isn’t it? Anyway, if you’ve met people like Fiona or you are like Fiona worry not, this post is for you.

However, before I begin let me give you a scenario of a conversation I had with Fiona so that you know I’m not making a mountain out of a molehill.

Me: Hey Fiona

Fiona: Hey

Me: How are you doing?

Fiona: Fine

Me: What interesting things have you been up to today?

Fiona: Nothing much

Me: Like nothing totally? Well what have you been up to?

Fiona: Nothing

Me: *leaves her hanging and proceeds to stab himself repeatedly*

I’m just kidding. That didn’t happen. I love myself a lot. What happened is the conversation deteriorated even further. The rest of the conversation was so terrible it made my eyes bleed and so I decided against posting it here. Now on to how you can become better at texting.

  1. Avoid one-word answers: One-word replies to texts are conversation killers. Replies like okay, fine and good often indicate finality. Only use them when very necessary. Otherwise, avoid these words. Avoid them like the plague. Instead, back them up with others. Like I’m fine thank you and you? That would be a better response. Not the best but better.
  2. Ask questions instead of using statements: If you are inquisitive it shows that you are interested and it creates room for further conversation. For instance, if somebody asks how you are doing responding by saying fine thank you and asking them how they are doing too leads to further conversation. However responding by just saying fine doesn’t. But don’t be too inquisitive. You aren’t a journalist conducting an interview or Jack Bauer trying to extract information from a rogue agent. Too many questions can be intrusive.
  3. Avoid redundant conversations: Repeated conversation is like bread. After a couple of days, it will become stale. Conversation should be dynamic. Switch it up as often as possible. I once had this chick pal who would always start a conversation with the question: What are you eating today? Like wtf?! Couldn’t she ask me something else, I used to wonder. Like couldn’t she ask me what I’d rather have had for supper than what I was having? Unless she was planning to appear at my doorstep so that I’d change my dinner plans from ugali to pilau, she should have desisted from asking me that tiring question. Imagine if you had to eat the same meal the whole day. It would become tiresome, right? Conversation like food needs variation.
  4. Use emojis: Since texting doesn’t allow us to express emotion as we would with face to face conversation, emojis were created. Emojis if used appropriately can make texting more interesting because they express emotion. People I chat with who don’t use emojis feel like robots. I think I should send these people those captcha codes that you are required to type to prove you aren’t a robot. Just to prove that they are human. Don’t be a robot, be a human being and use emojis. But emojis like questions should be used sparingly.
  5. Tell stories: I saved the best for last. The best way to keep a conversation going is to tell stories. The easiest way to do this is to talk about what you are passionate about. For instance talk about sports, politics, music, movies, books or whatever you are interested in. If you have mutual interests with the person you are chatting with that would be even better. Alternatively, create stories. Talk about anything and everything that comes to mind. It needn’t be true. Be imaginative. Be random. If you’ve had an uneventful day, lie about it for conversation’s sake. If you can’t create stories create scenarios. Conversations about what if are often very exciting.

You needn’t rack your brain to reply to a text. Texting like one on one conversation should segue from one topic to the next. Use some of the techniques I’ve mentioned in this post and your texting experience should improve.

But like face to face conversation don’t overly dominate the entire conversation. Strive for balance. Let the person you are chatting with give his/her input as well. And it sounds odd but even when texting be a good listener. Simply put, a conversation should be two way. It should be give and take.

However don’t become a slave to technology. If you can, set up one on one encounters rather than only conversing on phone. They are more fulfilling.

And when out with friends or family put your phone away, will you? Not only is it rude and anti-social to text when out with people, it also shows disinterest especially when on a one on one date.

Enjoy your texting 🙂

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