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I’ve spent a lot of years being afraid of what would happen if someone could tell I was fumbling for what to say, or if I accidentally revealed exactly what was on my mind.But I’m learning that those moments are called vulnerability, and that when other people witness them, it helps them know you better. “You stopped I blame a very particular age difference — and, improbably, AOL Instant Messenger. As people in our early 30s and late 20s, respectively, those five years don’t like much of an age gap most of the time.Dialing someone’s home phone line, briefly exchanging words with one of their parents or siblings, and then catching up with a friend or asking a girl out on a date — these were normal, natural things people his age did, and continued to do, uninterrupted, even after the arrival of the internet.My boyfriend, for his part — bless him — now knows to provide me with the daily texting validation I crave.Ever since “the reset,” as he likes to call it, he seldom goes more than half a day without sending me a good morning, or a how’s your day going, or a funny tweet he saw, or a single, gloriously random context-free emoji (the more baffling, the better).
By Monday afternoon, he caved and sent a novel of a message.For him, they are what instinctively happens when he has a question, when he has a funny story, when he wants to make plans.He sees texting as a slower, more frustrating alternative to the quick, easy phone chat, and I see it as both less confrontational and more private than a call.I loved AIM; I liked that having to type everything meant I couldn’t blurt out something embarrassing, and I felt immense gratitude that it wasn’t obvious when I was scrambling for what to say next.As I grew up, AIM was replaced by texting, but typed-out messages remained my preferred mode of communicating with people I liked and people I dated.
Every once in a while I still have to remind my early-rising boyfriend that a phone call is most welcome when the receiving party is already awake.