Drunk text-messaging is the new drunk dialing.
Whether flirting, proposing illicit affairs, arguing with an ex or just annoying friends, people are text messaging while under the influence of alcohol.
“It has more of a shock value,” said Jesse Yedinak, 25, of Boulder. “And I can say what I want to say in a 160 letters or less without having to have a back-and-forth conversation.”
Text messaging, the latest trend in wireless communication, allows you to send an immediate, short e-mail-style message through a cell phone. It has become increasingly popular in people’s everyday life and has now worked its way into their late-night partying habits. Drunks across the world can now engage people in an easier, faster and – most importantly – non-verbal way.
Drunk text messaging creates a safer distance between the sender and receiver, allowing people to say what they normally might not say in person.
“It’s more informal, and it seems that people tend to be more confident when it’s via text,” said Ryan Saylor, 23, of Rosemont, Pa.
And these messages are, too often, sent to an ex, declaring they are over the breakup or just trying to pick a fight.
“I cursed off an ex-girlfriend in a text, shortly after the break up,” Saylor added.
The text-messaging phenomenon isn’t losing any momentum. Verizon Wireless customers sent and received approximately four billion text messages a month in early 2006, according to Robin Nicol, a spokesperson for Verizon Wireless.
The majority of people sending text-messages these days fall in the under-30 age crowd. Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 65 percent of people 18-29 regularly text-message, compared to only 35 percent of all adults.
Coincidentally, about 65 percent of people in the 18-29 age group consume at least one drink of alcohol a month, according to a 2004 U.S. Census Bureau
“I drunk text every time I get drunk,” said Annie Dempsey, 26, of Bethesda, Md. “It’s a quick way to touch base without getting sucked into a phone conversation.”
There is another advantage: People can send texts from almost anywhere. Calling your best friend from a bar to announce that the band is playing your favorite song is next to impossible. “You don’t have to worry about the noise factor,” said Carrie Roth, 28, of Washington, DC.
All this texting comes with a price. The average cost of a text-message, based on the costs of Verizon, Cingular and T-Mobile message plans, was 10 cents to give or receive a message; the average cost for a text-message plan was about $4 for 200 text-messages.
“I can’t live without it,” said Jenn Char, 27, of Washington, D.C.
Many drunk texters send messages after a night of drinking with the hopes of enticing a possible late-night mate.
Todd Saylor, 30, Ryan’s older brother and also of Rosemont, Pa., compares text-messaging to fishing. It’s almost closing time at the bar, say 1:30 on a Friday night, and he’s looking for a potential “hook up.” He decides to send the same text to a couple of girls: “Hey, what are you up to?” or “Is there any late-night going on anywhere?”
“It’s like throwing out the fishing line, and all you have to do is wait and see who bites,” Saylor said.
David Grisby, 20, of Boulder, also prefers texting. After a recent night of drinking, Grisby met a girl at a bar and wanted to brag to all his friends without her knowing. Picking up the phone was out of the question, so sending a mass text that read “Make out sesh, boo ya!” seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
“My friends got a good laugh,” Grisby said.
The biggest advantage of drunk text messaging over drunk dialing?
“You can go back and read the things you wrote the night before,” said Char. A person may not be able to recall a drunken phone conversation or get to listen to the embarrassing message they left at 4 a.m. on their boyfriend’s voicemail.
“It makes me feel better if I can see what I wrote,” she said.