Monday, April 7, 2014

Review of He Texted: The Ultimate Guide to Dating in the Digital Era

Review: He Texted: The Ultimate Guide to Dating in the Digital Era by Lisa Winning and Carrie Henderson McDermott 
What amazed me about He Texted is the reactions that I got from friends when I shared tidbits from the ARC via my Kindle. Okay, I know all digital galleys have that warning in the front about it being an uncorrected proof and you should check the final edition and sacrifice a goat before quoting anything, but what’s a few snippets between your 200 closest friends? I mean, it’s not as if everything is linked on the Internet or something. . . . Hmm, someone just told me that’s wrong. Oh well. No crying over spilled quotes. Moving along. So as I mentioned before, the reactions were surprising.

As I read through the various interpretations of different kinds of digital interactions with single guys and their (bizarre) behavior, I thought it was a hilarious safari through the virtual man cave. Of course, a quote like, “Women are excellent at rationalizing any male behavior” went over big with my male friends who feel they have cornered the market on speaking “guy.” These are the same guys, by the way, who will turn right around and say men are straightforward; women are the ones who play silly games. What is there to rationalize? Gee, I don’t know.

Quotes like this got the men on my Facebook page a bit more, well, concerned.

I wasn’t quite sure how to take it when people of the opposite sex who know that I’ve been happily married for nine years start texting me with questions like, “So who is this guy?” Then, I’d reply, “I’m reading a book. It’s what I do.” Naturally, being told that women get just as bored with guys when they go on and on and on about boring topics and act like, as Lisa says above, “a broken fire hydrant.”

Obviously, a lot is implied in that short text dialogue. He is implying that I might be messin’ around, and by extension, interested in messing around with him. By highlighting the passage, I’m suggesting that women really do have to go to their happy place when guys go off on boring tangents.

Of course, we know that the men we actually have in our social circles would insist that they don’t play games or talk for 10 minutes about vegetarianism, or Star Trek or Magic, or whatever their turn-on happens to be.

Before I get too far into this review, I’d like to address some of the gripes I’ve seen in reviews. First, a lot of people complain that this can’t be the ultimate guide to dating in the digital era. Okay, maybe they left some ground uncovered. They didn’t mention OK Cupid or the other online dating sites. Given that those sites come with instructions on how to use them to set up dates, I’m just not sure it’s necessary to regurgitate that in print form. The ground covered in He Texted is the significance we attach to all of these brief interactions using media that were never intended to be a way of evaluating the quality of a potential partner. As funny as it is, I’m not sure you can take a guy’s tendency to use abbreviations whenever possible as a sign that when he sits down with your future child and has “the talk” he’s going to leave some important things out. I mean, he will leave some important things out not because he abbreves, but because men have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to dealing with ladies.

Based on my own interactions with friends via text and social media, and the stories shared in He Texted, I think it’s worth revisiting some fundamental guidelines for determining who is worth your time and energy and who isn’t. Here goes:
·      If you never know what they mean, it’s not going to work. The same goes if you never get what they mean.
·      If every interaction you have with them leaves you feeling like crap, it’s a bad relationship.
·      Texts and social media are for communication and connection. You don’t care about what I had for lunch? Well, guess what? Your Gandolf Europop sucks! Oh yes, that’s on Facebook. Anyone who says he is after solitude and privacy is full of it if he has and maintains Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. If he throws a hissy fit because (OMG) you posted something on his wall and everyone saw it, don’t ask, “Oh wow, why did I do that? Now I’ve upset him.” Ask, “Why do I care what an overgrown five year old thinks of me?”

Okay, text ranting. That is never okay. If you have a beef with me, or any other lady, man-up, whip out that phone and dial my f-ing number! Don’t stand there with your thumbs flying like a whimp and go on and on about how awful I’ve been sending you mixed signals or whatever other BS you’ve cooked up in your little boy noggin. I have been on the receiving end of these, and it’s not cool. Aw, but he really cares. How nice for him. He sounds like a psychopath, but he really has feelings. How sweet. Really? Seriously? Growing up in urban Los Angeles, we had another word to describe a guy like that. In New York City, it’s the same: Asshole! Everyone is born with their own asshole. We don’t need to acquire one that sends abusive texts because he can’t deal with feelings.

Along the same lines, social media has opened the door for all kinds of anti-social and passive-aggressive behavior to reign. He Texted touched on issues like unfriending on Facebook and “dropping off a digital cliff” aka never responding to texts or taking your calls again. Okay, if someone is actually abusive, as in on the verge of coming to your house and cooking bunnies on your stove a la Fatal Attraction, you have to do what you have to do to send a clear message. However, this is all going on the (often flawed) assumption that you have done everything one would reasonably expect of a mature adult in a relationship of some kind. Tell the person, as nicely as possible, that you just don’t have the time/inclination to respond to them right now, or explain what is making you uncomfortable. Yes, that can be a difficult conversation to have, but if you’ve known someone for more than a few months, and if you’ve stuck your private parts into theirs, seriously, it’s the least you can do. Even a simple, “Please stop trying to contact me” will suffice. It conveys all the key information, e.g. I will ignore future messages from you. I’m not dead. I’m no longer interested in what you have to say. Just not responding is bullshit. Randomly unfriending is also bullshit. Why? Because nobody has to take responsibility for anything, and whoever does it has an out. “Oh, my phone wasn’t working.” Or “Oops! I didn’t mean to unfriend you.” In other words, creeps prey on the kindness of those of us who talk to someone when we have an issue instead of behaving like a complete douchebag. (If you’re reading this and think it’s awfully energetic and must be directed at someone in particular, you just might be onto something.)

In the final analysis, is He Texted the “ultimate” guide on dating in the digital age? No, but I think you would be hard pressed to find anything that is an ultimate guide to dating in the digital age. Some would argue that dating has kind of gone out the window in favor of more of a hook-up culture. I like to think people who say that are pessimists, but they might not be that far off.

Ladies, the book is a fun read. I’m not sure it will tell you anything you don’t already know, but definitely take a look. Between what I read and what I know now, here is my list of blended tips:
·      If the guy doesn’t know how or when to dial instead of text, he’s a dweeb, and you’re too good to date, sleep with, or hook up with a dweeb.
·      Just say no to booty texts.
·      I don’t care if a nasty text from him means he cares or a polite text means he’s not interested. If he doesn’t know how to treat a woman with respect, he’s not a real man. Disconnect. Block, etc. No awkward conversation needed.
·      Facebook is fantasyland. It’s not a man cave. It’s not a woman cave. It’s not the dating equivalent of SAP’s “sandbox.” It’s a place to post selfies and party pics.
·      Dates are not material for documentaries unless you’re on a reality TV show and have a contract in place. No texting or updating on dates.
Enjoy the book. Keep it real. Keep yourself and your heart safe, and remember that people are people regardless of how many electronics they may have hanging off of them. The human connection is the one that counts, not the Internet connection.

Want your own copy of He Texted? It will be available at a bookstore near you starting April 15, 2014. Hardcover by Gallery Books, List Price $23, 272 pages.

Can’t wait? Check-out the site that started it all at