• Tue, Sep 13 2011

Textual Healing: Do You Lie More In Texts?

textual healingText messaging is often the fastest way to communicate with friends and acquaintances, but it’s not always the best one. Especially when it comes to texting with guys. Here at Crushable we aim to help you sift through all the subtext and emerge relatively unscathed – with a little help from our friend Amanda Ernst.

If someone asked you to track every conversation you had — via email, phone, text and in person — and keep a tally of how many lies you told in each conversation, what do you think the results would be? Through which medium would you lie the most?

Well, don’t think too hard about it, because researchers at Cornell University have already tested this, and have some pretty interesting (albeit not surprising) conclusions. The researchers discovered that more than 10% of texts were lies, although 30% of those were “butler lies,” a new term coined by Cornell researchers to describe those white lie texts we all use from time to time to end conversations. For example, “It’s been nice chatting but I’m going to sleep now.”

And although I thought their research would conclude that people lie more in text and email and other written mediums where you don’t have to literally lie to someone’s face, one scientist told the New York Times that he believed people actually lied more in person and on the phone — where there is no written record of their lies to entrap them.

Of course, Chiara Atik, who I have had much back-and-forth in the debate over texting vs. calling in the past, uses this data to solidify the conclusion that texting is better than calling. But I still feel the opposite. Yes, it might be more common to lie on the phone to someone — it’s amazing how easily those little white lies that get you out of trouble slip off the tongue — but isn’t it also easily to detect a lie in a phone conversation than a text or email? You get so much more information from a call: tone of voice, energy level, background noise.

My whole theory about why I prefer calling to texts (sometimes) is because I find it hard to say no on the phone or in person. “It’s easy to cancel, dodge or back out of plans when you’re texting but…it’s not as easy to say no on the phone,” I wrote a few months ago. “And phone calls have an additional bonus: when you’re listening the tone of someone’s voice and enjoying some fun banter, you don’t want to say no. You want the conversation to continue.” That means: fewer “butler lies” and more genuine conversation. You might even get to know the person on the other end a little better, without intrusion from emoticons and LOLs. If you’re on the phone with someone who you don’t want to see, you have to man up and tell them. Yes, that’s not easy, but at least it’s over and done with. I guess I prefer my communication quick and dirty.

Ultimately, I think what this study showed me is that it’s important to remain skeptical, whether you’re chatting to someone online or on the phone. But if you feel yourself getting paranoid and wondering every time you speak to someone whether they’re telling you the truth, it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you have: you need to end it.

What do you think about lying? Do you do it more in texts or on the phone? Have you ever been caught in a lie you told someone in a text? Leave your experiences in the comments below and you might see them featured in an upcoming installment of Textual Healing.

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