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Troubleshooting those ill-advised texts

A bad text message can cause social problems. Here are some tips for troubleshooting your texts.
A bad text message can cause social problems. Here are some tips for troubleshooting your texts.
  • Texting avoids all the nasty awkwardness and gaping silences
  • We're now texting at a rate of more than 1.5 trillion messages per year
  • Scientists found a correlation, which does not suggest that texting causes bad behavior

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as a news editor at, and Bartz holds the same position at Psychology Today.

(CNN) -- There's a lot to love about texting.

For the most part, it's silent and can be done stealthily. ("This blind date is a disaster. He thinks I'm Googling right now to confirm some obscure fact about 'Star Trek.' ")

It avoids all the nasty awkwardness, gaping silences and talking-over-one-another of a phone conversation.

If you believe the misguided media reports, it even leads to more sex, booze and rock 'n' roll for American teens. (For the record: Scientists found a correlation, which does not remotely suggest that texting causes bad behavior. Makes a lot more sense that the most extroverted kids hook up more, drink more and, oh yeah, text more than the loners do, yes?)

We're now texting at a rate of more than 1.5 trillion messages per year in the United States, according to a survey from CTIA. Let's write that out for maximum kapow: 1,500,000,000,000 texts!

Amidst them, no doubt, are a helluva lotta problematic ones. Read on for tips on troubleshooting your terrible-TM woes.

Sob story: A few times a week, you text a bunch of people to see whether anyone wants to go to happy hour with you at that weird new bar that smells like bathroom candles and looks like Aunt Mimi's doily-heavy living room. (It's antique chic.) No one ever responds, leaving you sitting alone at the bar, struggling to read Sartre in the dimness and din.

Solution: Here's what's up: When people get an impersonal text invite, this whole diffusion-of-responsibility thing happens where everyone assumes someone else will go with you. Plus it's slightly insulting to feel like you're one of 11 interchangeable people who can fill the role of drinking buddy. Send personal texts (even to a few friends one-by-one -- no "Anybody up for Tom Collinses?") and watch the yes replies roll in.

Group texts are OK in only a few contexts: When a small, defined group of people is planning something on the run, or when you're all at the same Total Slacker show and keep losing each other in the crowd.

In either case, you can create a temporary group text zone (kinda like a chatroom on everyone's phone) with the free app Fast Society. You decide how long the auto-text-all function lasts (say, until the end of the concert or maybe until tomorrow morning when you're all waking up in foreign beds).

Sob story: You say hilarious things over text, and aside from the recipient's "lol" response, you get no respect for it. And quoting your own text on Twitter or Facebook is too unabashedly vain, even for you.

Solution: Sign up, along with your wittiest text buddies, for the newly launched BNTR. From the brain of the creator of Texts From Last Night, the site allows you post hilarious text convos for your friends to see and comment on. (Hint: Pretty much anyone who's good on Twitter will quickly take advantage of this new opportunity to show off in minimal keystrokes.)

Sob story: You want to break up with a dude. You don't want to see him. Or call him. You pretty much only communicate via text and heated arguments over whiskey sodas, but some teeny fiber of your conscience is telling you a flippant text might be kinda rude.

Solution: Here's the rule of thumb: If homeboy isn't worth any more to you than a text message, then hit send. Seriously, if you've only been out once or twice, or he's such a ridiculous jackass that he's only getting a written brush-off because he hasn't picked up on how much he repulses you, then you needn't go to great lengths to end things.

A polite, unapologetic text often does the trick: "Hey, I think you're really cool, but I don't see a future for us and don't want to lead you on. It was awesome meeting you. Good luck!" (Sliding in some BS about being "too busy right now" is a stupid tact, by the way: Poor sap will just keep hoping you'll come around when your schedule "frees up.")

If it meant any more than that to either of you, though, you've got to step it up: a thoughtful e-mail, a phone call or even a talk in person. Flex those empathy muscles to determine what'll be the least insulting to the other person, and when in doubt, err on the side of too much reverence to the relationship.

Respectful rejection, to go all learning-moment-in-"Full House" on you for a sec, is a way important skill -- both in real life and online.

Sob story: You just invited your crush to come hang out "in the buff." You meant to type "in the Burg." Autocorrect is ruining your life.

Solution: Ha. Haha. Sucks for you. No one's come up with a battle plan for Autocorrect's diabolical rampage (except, you know, turning it off -- on an iPhone, go to settings, general, keyboard). So submit your disaster to Damn You Autocorrect and at least let the rest of us laugh about it.


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