Those who know me are aware that I stand somewhat at odds with traditional masculine stereotypes in American culture. Thankfully, this story comes to us from overseas. Reuters says:
Men have become so openly affectionate with each other using mobile technology they’ve taken to signing off text messages to male friends with a kiss (x), giving rise to a new generation dubbed “Metrotextuals.”
New research from mobile phone firm T-Mobile reveals nearly a quarter of men (22 percent) regularly include a kiss on texts to their male mates, T-Mobile said in an emailed statement.
“Metrotextuality” is most widespread among 18-24 year old males with three quarters (75 percent) regularly sealing texts with a kiss and 48 percent admitting that the practice has become commonplace amongst their group of friends.
Nearly a quarter of this age group (23 percent) even appreciate an “x’ in a text exchange from people that aren’t close friends.
But it’s not just younger men that have become Metrotextuals — one in 10 men over 55 often completes a text to another male with a kiss, according to the poll.
The research also revealed there’s a certain etiquette within metrotextuality. A lower case “x” is the preferred sign-off for most (52 percent) compared to 17 percent for a bolder upper case X), with one in three sharing the love in a big way with multiple lower case kisses (xxx).
Look, it’s real simple: No, no, and no.
First, this isn’t sensitivity. It’s a trend. Secondly, you don’t need to be a clinical psychologist to know that “men have traditionally been reluctant to share their emotions with friends and tended to keep their feelings bottled up”. And while a clinical psychologist, Ron Bracey, notes that, “the advent of mobile phones and social media means more communication is done non-verbally, and through this it seems men can more easily share their feelings with others — especially their male friends”, that’s actually part of the problem.
It seems men can more easily share their feelings with others. That’s the point. Sticking an “x” at the bottom of a text message is easy. It’s a hell of a lot easier than figuring out what you really think and feel. Half a lifetime ago, in Oregon, a small circle of male friends developed a habit of greeting one another with hugs. It was demonstrative, for the most part; amid a long-running political fight about who people sleep with, it was fun to raise eyebrows in a generally-conservative government town. But, to the other, in that circle was one friend, still close to this day even as our lives pull us farther away from one another, with whom I could generally discuss such difficult things as feelings.
Seeing the sunrise after a long night of delving into life’s mysteries, grinning wearily as the last cup of coffee fails to take effect, sleeping quietly and soundly with tacit confidence that there is, in fact, someone on this Earth who understands: these are far more rewarding moments than tacking an “x” onto the end of a text message. And, yes, your mother might wonder if you’re going to make some sort of announcement about what’s in your closet, but even that can have its bonding effect. Don’t be paranoid about people thinking you’re queer, or a sissy, or whatever. Just enjoy the fact that they cannot understand the simple reality of men who trust one another so intimately while caring naught about sex and its prefixes.
One “confirmed metrotextual”, Nick Kirkham, told Reuters that other than in work-related matters, “there’s no one I wouldn’t send a kiss on text to”.
Kind of cheapens the whole expression of feelings thing, doesn’t it? I mean, if men traditionally keep their feelings bottled up, I just don’t see how adding a meaningless character to the end of a text message is going to change that.
“Oh, look. Nick sent me a kiss! Wow. That makes me feel so … um … er … like everyone else in his address book.”
Or who knows? Maybe this is a good way for men to explore their inner queer.
(Allow me, please, to tip my hat to the one and only Ben Schott.)