Monday, October 08, 2007

The 10 Contact Commandments

Hear ye, hear ye, there is unrest in this wicked town! The downfall of our civilization is near. Heed me you heathens! I have been chosen by my own, unstoppable and glorious ego as a mortal vessel to right your collective wrongs. I too have indulged in these sinful ways for far too long. But I will change, have changed, if only I can share the prophecy and you too can spread the good word. And you must! Or else all are condemned to a lifetime of self-flagellation and a horribly evil fate in which you are in hell, ten messages on your Blackberry, all of which you will never be able to check as you have empty, useless eyes and fire for hands.

Thou shalt not forget thy primary and original purpose of thy phone.

The purpose is to call another heathen, not to text! Texting shall forever after be known as the last line of defense. Not the first. Sort-of-boyfriends and girlfriends, ancillary friendships, and all sorts of other, crappy, destructive, hanging-on-by-a-thread relationships are now held together by texting (and perhaps, myspace and facebook). If you are only texting, you are merely prolonging something that maybe should not continue. Stop the insanity and pick up the phone if you actually “miss someone” (Oh, love those texts. You miss me? Really? But not enough to call, right?) If you require more evidence, think about the people you call and then call you. That’s the short list. That’s the important list. The texting list is way longer. And that texting list, whether you want to admit it or not, is full of your backup people. Don’t do that to someone. And don’t allow yourself to be a backup person for someone else.

Thou shall honor thy company present over company not present.

Contacting someone unless you are explicitly making plans for that person to join your current party is kind of rude. If you must pick up the phone when they call, you should immediately say “I’m with someone, can I call you back?” If you must check a text, don’t immediately hunch over and respond, consider instead showing the current person what the text is, if it’s funny, unless it is about the possibility of you hooking up with current party. And if you are trying to hook up with current party, why are you checking your text about it anyway? Just do it! And send me a text about it later. With a lot of details, please.

Thou shall adhere to the following voicemail etiquette:

1. State your name.
2. State your reason for calling.
3. State the next actionable intent.

Do not, for instance, say, hey it’s me, call me. That is annoying. That is not helpful. That is not good. That is putting all the work on the other person when the burden lies upon you to give good message. I like to default to something along the lines of, Hey it’s K, I just bought fifty bucks worth of fried chicken, want to have a chicken fight, how’s 4 PM today? Or a really long one that only I think is funny that the other person might save. I think this is much better because then you can know what I’m talking about and ignore me accordingly instead of just ignoring me and then having to call me back when you think it’s been long enough that I will have found someone else for whatever it was that I was doing, and then you have to make up an excuse, and then, etc.

Thou shall honor thy form in which the communication began.

No following up an email with a text. No following up a call with a facebook wall post. Unless of course, you are sending a message to the person that you really don’t want to talk to them (or that you are too busy to talk to them). And if this happens to you, then honor the implied wishes of others (see commandment after next).

Thou shalt not half-ass it.

Do you really think you’re fooling me with a 1:30 AM “Where are you?” when you said you’d call me to hang out Saturday night? Do you? Cause buddy, I invented that. It’s a half-assed fadeout where I get to say that I “tried” but you were the one who never responded and therefore it’s YOUR fault that we didn’t meet up. Child’s play.

Thou shall back off.

Sometimes people get busy or they just need a break from talking or all their updates are depressing and they really don’t want to have to rehash them or they aren’t the type of person that feels the need to talk to all people they know every single day. So, I urge you, for the sanity of others, if you are sending multiple emails/myspace/facebook messages/texts a day, and you are not hearing back, take this as a sign. The rule of scarcity, people. Use it. Or heed the consequences of a quick fade (vs. aforementioned slow fade—see commandment before the previous) in which you find your overbearing love has bristled someone beyond repair.

Thou shalt not commit “sexting” (aka “sexy texting” aka “pet names and/or the electronic whispering of sweet nothings”) unless thy intent is to follow up beyond virtual reality.

Yes it is easy to become invigorated at midnight when say, no other girls in the bar will talk to you, but to text someone that you miss them, or that you are thinking about them, only to pretend said event never happened when say, your girlfriend gets back in town, is, as you are well aware, just a real d-bag maneuver. So quit doing it to my girlfriends cause then I have to nurse them back to health because you’re a jerk. This commandment could also be entitled, “Thou shall commit sincerity.”

Thou shall respect the pace which was set.

If you are emailing, and you email back immediately, the other person will become accustomed to it. If then you disappear for three weeks, the other person will become confused. Be kind and let them know if you are going to not indulge in the pace previously set. Also, understand the message you send when you respond really quickly. Do you really want to be sending that message? No? Well then stop doing it! (See I learned my lesson, Annabella, and I’m sorry I did this to you! I only responded because I was bored, not because your cat story was interesting. Seriously. Don’t tell that story to anyone again. It’s terrible.)

Conversely, if a person is not responding to you right away, respect the pace they are setting. It’s hard to be witty at work all right? I can’t like, be funny every two seconds. Or even every two years. I gotta work on my schtick first. Unless you don’t want my ace material. It’s up to you. Also, my ace material is really bad so I don’t think you want to see my toss-off material. I promise you.

Thou shalt not check. Obsessively. Obsessively. Obsessively.

Keep it on vibrate on your person, check it in the bathroom when you’re out, and chillax. Glancing at your phone every three seconds is a big and basic no-no. Even if you are alone. You are merely feeding your own compulsions here. And a watched pot never boils.

Never get high on your own supply.

Oh sorry, this is one of Biggie’s 10 Crack Commandments. My bad. Please then simply refer to the previous nine as I have run out of ideas.

I empower you! Take these tablets and spread the word! And feel free to break all of these rules at any time, even though you know you shouldn’t, because everyone else in the world will anyway.

Any contact commandments of your own to add?


Anonymous said...

YES. i am so glad you wrote this.

i hate it when someone only responds to you when you text them. and they respond really happily and immediately. want to really be nice? just dont write back, then i'll stop. but don't act like you're excited to talk to me only when i do all the work, and never do it yourself.

Ha Ha Sound said...

I think any relationship that's mostly virtual isn't worth keeping up with (unless, of course, the person lives in another city or country or whatever). People who live in the same city that you're Facebook friends with and text every once in a while, but haven't seen in eight months? Those are vague acquaintances, not friends.

Anonymous said...

I hate texting.