Traditional views aren’t quite old news.
After 15 weeks Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” remains on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, having peaked at №4. This popular tune centers on the antics of a problematic boyfriend/potential suitor which Lizzo promptly breaks away from, eventually finding better male prospects. In the song’s chorus she doubles down on her decision, with assertions such as “Shampoo press, get you out of my hair” and “New man on the Minnesota Vikings.” Oddly enough, Lizzo’s talk of new romance is preceded by regret from her previous suitor and arguably an effort on his part to rekindle the relationship. To this she sings, “Don’t text me, tell it straight to my face.”
Settling a dispute can be uncomfortable for many. Text messaging between disgruntled parties to resolve an issue may work in some cases, but one could argue that tone and emotion, two important properties in this scenario, cannot be adequately conveyed through writing. Moreover, solving problems via text could be considered passive, juxtaposing the active nature of face-to-face interactions. Whereas sending a text message can be done virtually anywhere, anytime, thus prolonging a conversation, in person contact forces one to react at a set place in a certain amount of time (Panek et al., 2015). This might have been why Lizzo propositions her past romance to “tell it straight to my face.” Considering the matter at hand, however, one must ask why Lizzo’s ex would choose texting over physical interaction?
To be, or not to be?
According to Schroeder and Sims (2018), texting is a part of everyday life and among youth is the most preferred method of communication, even more so than face-to-face communication. As a woman in her early 30s, Lizzo falls into the millennial category, making her part of America’s younger population and relevant to discussions about texting behaviors. Studies have shown that people who favor this method of communication do so for specific reasons (Punyanunt-Carter & Wagner, 2018). However, Panek et al. (2015) purported that the primary goals of those engaging in texting are to facilitate coordination among individuals, maintain a sense of social connection, or to alleviate boredom.
Differences in texting behaviors can be seen depending on one’s age and sex. Regarding the later, males and females tend to have different communication styles outside of mobile phone use, which makes their dissimilar texting behaviors understandable. According to Punyanunt-Carter and Wagner (2018), women tend to be more adept at using nonverbal communication, while men usually exhibit more nervous features when communicating nonverbally. Women have also been shown to better recognize nonverbal cues from others. Given this understanding, it makes sense that Lizzo’s ex would lean toward texting as a method of problem solving. Face-to-face interaction could mean possibly encountering non-verbal cues, which if not properly addressed might worsen any attempts at reconciling.
Texting to circumvent speaking with someone in person is better known as avoidance texting. Bailey, Schroeder, and Sims (2015) asserted that this might be a detrimental texting behavior. Such action can stifle social interactions. For example, one who chooses texting over in person conversation may find it difficult to communicate without the help of a device. This negative outcome resulting from dependence on mobile phones adds to a variety of other problems, such as texting while driving or texting while walking.
When it comes to certain interactions, however, text messaging may prove less effective. A study by Roghanizad and Bohns (2017) looking at direct requests made over email versus face-to-face found that targets were likelier to comply with face-to-face requests. While this finding did not directly address interactions via text messaging, communication expert Debra Fine believed it to be comparable. Moreover, Moses (2018) asserted that conversations potentially leading to “real, true, triggering arguments are best had face-to-face” (para. 3).
Face the music
Texting is a convenient method of communicating with others and can be done with minimal effort. Its usage can extend to problem solving, which seemingly benefits men in romantic relationships considering their troubles with nonverbal communication. However, the severity of an issue may call for face-to-face interaction as opposed to electronic passages. Lizzo raises this point in “Truth Hurts” when she tells her regretful ex-love interest, “Don’t text me, tell it straight to my face.” Considering the importance of rekindling a relationship with the artist, Lizzo’s ex would most likely benefit from speaking with her in person.
Though text messaging has gained much popularity amongst younger populations as a primary mode of communication, there is something to be said about speaking without technology. Face-to-face interactions make it possible for individuals to handle issues at a specific point in time with a clear understanding of one’s emotional state. Though nonverbal cues can at times be misread, an effort should be made to help individuals feel comfortable with physical interactions. Had Lizzo’s ex — though fictional — taken the time to converse with her without using a mobile device, she might have given him another chance to redeem himself. Nevertheless, she moved on and gave him a lesson in communication. Hopefully, this benefits him in his next — fictional — relationship.
Bailey, S. K., Schroeder, B. L., & Sims, V. K. (2015, September). Unsafe texting and socially problematic texting: Need for cognition as an underlying predictor. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 59, №1, pp. 971–975). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
Moses, L. (2019, May 07). If you’re tempted to pick a fight with your partner over text, read this first. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.elitedaily.com/p/is-it-bad-to-fight-over-text-a-relationship-expert-gets-to-the-bottom-of-this-dilemma-9961656
Panek, E. T., Bayer, J. B., Dal Cin, S., & Campbell, S. W. (2015). Automaticity, mindfulness, and self-control as predictors of dangerous texting behavior. Mobile Media & Communication, 3(3), 383–400.
Punyanunt-Carter, N. M., & Wagner, T. R. (2018). Interpersonal communication motives for flirting face to face and through texting. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 21(4), 229–233.
Roghanizad, M. M., & Bohns, V. K. (2017). Ask in person: You’re less persuasive than you think over email. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 223–226.
Schroeder, B. L., & Sims, V. K. (2018). Texting as a multidimensional behavior: Individual differences and measurement of texting behaviors. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 7(3), 361.