‘Don’t Call Me Before You Text’: Here Are the New Rules of Communicating in the Digital Era

Person texting.

Connecting with people has become so much easier with advancing technology. Tasks that once required an operator, postage stamp or carrier pigeon are now as simple as tapping a name or even a face on your screen, and, voila, you’re connected.

But also easier is unwittingly getting caught up in a major disconnect by violating a tangle of new rules for communicating. A big one for some: Don’t call until you’ve texted to confirm it’s OK to call. But that’s just the beginning.

“I’m usually pretty chill and not much bothers me,” said Mark Angiello, a 29-year-old office manager from White Plains, New York. But the one thing that really gets under his skin, that he “hates more than anything else in life” is the horrendous one-word message — “K.”

“At the very least reply with, ‘Got it.'” Angiello said. “At least give me the courtesy of a few words here. You’re not that busy.”

Ramoan Bruce, a 29-year-old DJ from the Bronx said his personal list of digital interaction rules runs long.

“Don’t text me and say, ‘Hey, did you get my last text?’ You know that I got it,” Bruce said. “I get kinda annoyed when I text someone and then they respond by calling me, and I hate when people FaceTime me out of nowhere. Like, don’t do that.”

There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of others who have taken to social media to express their detest for people who don’t follow the unwritten ground rules of digital communication.

Twitter user @Zelvel writes: “It’s an unsaid rule in texting if you weren’t the last person to send a text before you fell asleep, you should be the first to send one in the morning.”

“Doesn’t everyone know the unsaid rule? You have to send at least 3 texts pretending to be friendly before you can ask for a favor,” writes Twitter user @Tforace.

Twitter user @Kassmori writes: “Okay, rule #1: if I unadd you on anything, do not ask me why on something else. Especially if I don’t know you?”

Other examples include don’t leave a message after the beep, don’t send too many texts in a row, and don’t just start a conversation with “Hey.” If you decline incoming phone calls just to text the caller “What’s up?” then you, too, have adopted some informal protocols.

Have you ever wondered where these seemingly innate communication subtleties come from?

“These rules are simply a new manifestation of a phenomenon we’ve seen in the past,” said James Ivory, professor of communication at Virginia Tech.

Ivory said that the same way that generations and small groups of friends have their own slang and customs, internet culture has given birth to technology-dependent beings that have their own unique set of correspondence rituals.

So, not everyone gets the memo.

Unlike formal language, which can be taught with practice using an online subscription to Rosetta Stone, digital communication can be laced with cryptic clues that the person on the other end of the call, text or email may or may not easily understand.

“As soon as people aren’t talking face to face, the first thing that gets lost is some of the richness of the nonverbal communication,” Ivory said. “People immediately fill that gap by trying to approximate it,” either by using emojis, adopting informal etiquette or sending gifs – those animated images that seem to sum up a sentiment in seconds.

Etiquette and lifestyle expert Elaine Swann said that it’s perfectly natural for the social manners to change as formats for chatter evolve.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Dalvin Brown