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The Flirtexter Olivia: An Exclusive Interview with Author, Olivia B.


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When the Art of Text post went up a few months ago, I hadn’t realized that there was a deeper, underlying issue that was bubbling up beneath the surface. While texting is certainly “newer” technology, it was really the result of over a decades worth of communication that was slowly moving towards a new direction.  What may surprise many is that it was the corporate world in the 90s that brought computers into our homes. While kids had Nintendo and Sega, purchasing a $2,000 plus computer was a luxury that only the adults could afford.

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Debra and Olivia out on the town.

No longer confined to the office, we could now work on papers, proposals, and spreadsheets at any time of the day.  This computing technology worked its way into our homes, our lives and as technology advanced and declined in cost, our pockets. We could now stay connected at all times. I was surprised to learn that a growing number of parents jumped on this technology but not necessarily for them. Oh no. For their kids. What better invention than to install portable tracking devices on their children so they could reach them at all times?

As a supplement to the three part Dating in the Information Age series, I decided to go straight  to the source for additional information.  Olivia Baniuscewitz is at the forefront of communication technology and dating. Her along with co-author Debra Goldstein, literally wrote the book. (Editorial Note: Click here to read the interview with Debra on Flirtexting). This growing field is  an Undiscovered Country and the rules are constantly in flux and changing.  Debra and Olivia have been able to develop guidelines for how to navigate this very tricky arena.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been consulting with Olivia on the topic of How Technology has Changed the way we date. Olivia may be one of the funniest people I’ve worked with since starting this blog but underneath the witty humor is a person who has a ton of valuable insight. Listed below are only a few of the questions I had for her.  As always, I hope you enjoy the conversation that took place between us.

Without further ado.

Ethan Bishop: How do you feel that chat technologies such as BBM, Facebook Chat, gchat, change the way we date in the 21st century?

Olivia: Our gears certainly switched. These are all great ways for us to stay connected throughout our busy fast-paced lives. Love that. However, we should be mindful that these technologies should NOT replace face-to-face or phone calls. They are here to serve as supplements to the dating process. You need to mix it up to keep it healthy. For instance, talk on the phone, go on a date, send a thank you text next day, chat a bit on gchat. Moderation is the name of the game with these technologies.

These technologies definitely changed the game. Speedy technology has led us to speed date. We certainly lose our mystery by being so open and accessible to chat through these various forms. If you’re constantly out there and available, it makes dating you less exciting. If you’re not fully around, then your crush starts to wonder and your mystery stock just went up. As a rule of thumb, Debra and I always tell girls to withhold Facebook friending or exchanging BBM Pins with a guy until you’re well into date # 4. This will help contain your mystery and sanity until you’re on your way to seriously dating.

On the flip side, technologies have helped us gain more confidence to reach out to one another and build upon a connection. Dating doesn’t intimidate us anymore. Technology has removed the awkward element of asking someone out or getting to know them better. Plus we can weed out the good from bad quicker and reach out to more people without hesitations.

The Flirtexter Olivia

Ethan Bishop: How can we “keep” the mystery when all of these technologies are in your face, 24-7 coverage? For instance, if I’ve been texting you all day, how can I simply jump on gchat and talk to a few friends of mine WITHOUT the girl thinking I am ignoring her?

Olivia: This definitely is the biggest challenge facing the dating world today. How do we keep ourselves mysterious if we continue to be front page Facebook News Feed fodder??

I even find myself guilty of wanting to write something funny on a crush’s Facebook wall, then comment on his picture, BBM him for plans later, lastly email him a funny link I just received. Where do you draw the line? Its all a balancing act. Be mindful that if you saturate the communication lines early on, your love connection will burn out quicker than you can type “game over”. We need to restrain our “reach outs” and remember less is more. Choose the best medium by questioning your options: is the email link funnier than the facebook comment you were just going to post?? Choose one and stick to it, this will make you approachable while holding onto your precious mystery.

As for the gchat, if you’re talking to your boys and don’t want to talk to the girl. No biggie. We’ve all become overly sensitive to seeing someone is readily available to chat with you and not doing so. We can’t take offense everytime theres an opportunity to talk and that person doesnt reach out. There’s way too many channels of communication today and we have to start conditioning ourselves to understand that and not assume the person no longer likes you. Its just silly. Think about it.

Ethan Bishop: When will you be writing a book on “Flirtchatting”? I definitely could have used some tips on this back when I was in college and AIM was at an all-time high as the preferred method of communication.  I think everyone has heard horror stories about girls/guys blocking each other, saying they created a separate account because they were “bored” with the name when they really wanted to spy on the person they liked…

Olivia: I hear AIM was the booty-call of the 90’s in college. Fact or fact? I mostly remember when everyone battled over the best “away messages”.  Let me just say there was a lot of pressure to post a great away message because people read them and commented on them. From insides jokes, quotes, music lyrics…it all was reflective of where you were and your personality. It sparked people’s interest in you.

Olivia

DJ O-Money in rare form.

Ethan Bishop: It seems that every woman is different when it comes to giving out their contact information and rightfully so when you hear the horror stories of guys who call or text all the time.  Lets say our friend John walks home with an e-mail address from a girl he met at the bar.  Do the suggestions you give in Flirtexting apply to e-mail as well (i.e. Don’t e-mail after 10:00pm?, never Email Under the Influence)

Olivia: In Flirtexting, we mention email exchanges as a more neutral means of connecting that doesn’t scream “I want to date you!!!”. Giving someone your email means that you want to feel out your interest in them before committing to getting a number (the ultimate I want to take you out move). Tips here include keeping your messages short even despite all the space you have to write, don’t respond to email late at night (its more of a daytime play), never do ANY communicating under the influence (a rookie move), and lastly “I didn’t get your email” is most believable here if you don’t like someone. Thank you SPAM.

If you are new to Flirtexting, be sure to check out their Sizzle Reel – a quick recap of many of their interviews on television. You can find out more about Debra and Olivia on their Flirtexting website and follow them on Twitter @flirtexting. Lastly, they did an awesome interview on the Tyra Banks show a few months ago.

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  1. December 24, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I like the use of technology but always caution people to use it as they would a conversation. People often get more courageous when texting or IM’ing because they’re not face to face.

    Remember, texts and IM’s are WRITTEN, can be saved, and used against you at a later date (GF 1 sends a copy to GF 2 for example). Smarten up.

    • January 4, 2010 at 6:43 pm

      Texting needs to be used in the right balance. These authors are stating how to handle texting in a fun way, not use it as an alternative to a phone call.

      Like you said when it comes to the written word, “Anything you say can and will be used against you.”

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