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Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 12:13 am

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PHOTO COURTESY AMY ALKON
Amy Alkon
I’m dating again now and annoyed by how texting’s become the way you get to know somebody you might want to go out with. I type all day at work. I’ll talk on the phone, but the last thing I want to do when I’m off is type text messages. -- Contrary Millennial Woman

Back in, say, 539 B.C. in Sumer, if you wanted to tell somebody you were “laughing out loud,” you’d have to dispatch your eunuch across town with the message on a cuneiform tablet. Okay, so the “tablets” are way more tricked out these days, but oh, how far we haven’t come.

Texting can be a great way to get to know somebody -- somebody who can’t talk on the phone because they’re hiding in a closet from kidnappers in a Liam Neeson movie. However, assuming neither of you is in immediate danger of being sold into sex slavery by the standard swarthy Hollywood terrorists, you should hold off on any text-athons until after you put in some solid face-to-face time.

Sure, in texting, it seems like all sorts of information is getting “bloop!”ed back and forth. However, you end up missing some vital elements -- tone of voice, emotion, body language -- that you’d have in person or even FaceTiming on your phone.

People shrug that off: “No biggie … I’ll just see all that stuff when we meet.” Well, there’s a problem with that. “Nature,” it’s said, “abhors a vacuum,” and it seems the human brain isn’t so hot on it, either. Research by neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga suggests that when people lack information, their brain helps them by making up a narrative that seems to make sense. So there’s a good chance your brain is going to be your helpful little servant and fill in the missing bits -- with ideas about a person that may not correspond all that closely with reality.

In other words, you’re accidentally onto something with your dislike of text-athons. That said, the telephone isn’t the best way to get to know somebody, either -- not even via FaceTime, which only gives you a partial picture. That’s why I think you and anyone you’re considering dating should communicate minimally online or by phone and get together in person ASAP. Ideally, your first date should be three things: cheap, short and local -- making it low-cost in time, money and, on some occasions, “lemme outta here, you sick pumpkin latte-slurping degenerate!”

Tell guys your preference, and don’t be swayed by texting aficionados who insist that you simply must engage in marathon text sessions before meeting somebody … because … because safety! Sure, meet your dates in public places (rather than have them pop by your place so they can zip-tie you and stuff you in their trunk). The reality is, texting somebody till your fingers bleed is not the equivalent of an FBI report on their trustworthiness -- though it will leave you well-prepared to testify at The Hague on their war crimes against the apostrophe.

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