Did you see The Bachelorette last night? It was quite the emotional week for Ashley – one bachelor severely insulted her, a group of bachelors unsympathetically roasted her commenting on her looks and chest size, and yet another bachelor dumped her telling us viewers he was never interested in her in the first place. And during all this turmoil, a new character found its own place in this story – the text. Michelle, a previous bachelorette, outed Bentley, the dumping bachelor, by sending a single text to Ashley even before the show had started. This single text of a few characters saying that Bentley was there for the wrong reasons has become a central ‘character’ in every episode, despite the fact that Ashley never picked up the phone to call Michelle to find out more. Yet, questions abound – is Michelle telling the truth, will Ashley confront him, how will Bentley react, is the text for real?
So why are we talking about a single text as a central character on a show about dating? In the past, we used to call or chat with a friend to relay our concerns over a new friend or potential date. The conversation would explore the reasons for and against having concerns and the friend would then decide his/her next step. If recorded and transcribed, an average ‘warning’ conversation might be at least 1000 words or about 5000 characters. Today, a text like the one sent to Ashley might have less than 20 words or about 100 characters, even less characters than Twitter allows. And yet, we might make major life decisions based on such a single line of text. We will save it, re-read it, maybe even forward it. If a friend who sent us such a text had actually called to say the same thing, we wouldn’t let her hang up unless she justified the comment, provided supporting facts, and responded to a barrage of follow-up questions. Instead, we think quickly, move quickly, and sometimes walk into a hopeless situation.
Humans are a social creature.
Shall we talk?
Let’s see what lessons about the digital world next week’s episode of The Bachelorette brings.
Until then, just remember – there’s no replacement for a good conversation.