Flaking out on plans

This video from Alex Cornell totally cracked me up. (Via SwissMiss) It’s a little NSFW I guess, but all the curse words are bleeped.

Here’s the thing; Alex is describing a totally real phenomenon, that’s in part technology and in part shifting social norms. The two really do go hand in hand. But rather than just offer a hilarious snarky take on it, I’d like to offer a couple ideas of what you can do to combat Cellphone Flakiness Syndrome, at least when it comes to online dating.

  1. Get that communication out of OkCupid! (Or eHarmony, or Match, or wherever.) When you graduate from using a dating service’s proprietary messaging service to a more personal medium, like email or texting or even (gasp) telephoning, you become more of a real person and less of a single blip in the sea of other potential dating site matches.
  2. Invent excuses to follow up. If you haven’t heard from someone for three days before you’re supposed to have your next date, come up with a reason (fake if necessary) to have a benign excuse to contact them. Something like “I just saw a weiner dog in a taco costume and it reminded me that we’re getting delicious Mexican food in a few hours. Looking forward to it! (And next time I’ll try and snag a pic for ya. It was amazing.)” OK, so maybe that’s two texts. But you get the idea! You didn’t *actually* need to see said costumed canine in order to gently remind your potential date that you’re due to see each other, so nobody is a no-show.
  3. Play Devil’s Advocate. Text messages have become our most common means of communication, but they kind of suck because they don’t have the same rich feature set as email. Once you read a text, you can’t mark it unread or easily forward it; basically it’s up to your brain to definitely remember to do something in response to a text. And yet, while you’re reading that text, you may get a phone call or some push notification that pulls your attention away and then you forget forever and look like an @$$hole. Keep in mind that sometimes, when plans fail to get made because a conversation trailed off, it was due to the crappy system of texting and not the person’s actual disinterest or rudeness. You can always find an excuse to text again. :)
  4. Be patient, within reason. Your taco text strategy may actually elicit an “Oh crap, I’m so sorry! I spaced it but I have to work late tonight. :( Raincheck?” We live in a crazy busy world and online dating is weird and sometimes shit happens and maybe it’s OK if your date bails because at least now they gave you some notice. Now you get to have more time to binge-watch shows on Netflix and do laundry, yay! But if this becomes a pattern, bail. I’d say two offenses are enough to move on, unless they REALLY blow you out of the water with considerate ways of making it up.
  5. Find a hack! Create a system where you remember every X days to peek at your texting history. Use email instead if you prefer for non-time-sensitive communications, which may coax the other person to reply via email too. Put up sticky notes or set a repeating alarm that nudges you into checking those ephemeral inboxes like dating apps and text messaging, so you don’t let open loops just sit there with no response because you got a nudge that someone updated a Facebook thread. In short, find a way to use your tech to help you use your tech better.

Got any other tips for dealing with phone flakes? Please share!

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