Millennials on Online Relationships

While driving back from Catalyst 2010, I took the opportunity to quiz the students I was traveling with on how they view online relationships & cell phone etiquette.  What’s legal and what’s rude.  Here is a sampling of their responses.

1.  First interaction online (thru Facebook or Chat) does not equal a real first interaction.  If they saw each other the next day, they would still feel awkward as if they were interacting for the very first time. 

2.  They will share more about themselves online than face-to-face, only because its private and behind closed doors.  However, you are not allowed to bring up what they posted online unless you were there with them.  That is an invasion of privacy.

3.  Cell phones – You can take a call from a friend while with others in public, but they expect you to leave the table. If someone is on a call in a group setting everyone else will get quiet.  They don’t want to interrupt your call.

4.  Text messages – They are legal at all times to take.  But not legal at all times to respond.  When Millennials are in a group setting where folks are facing each other (like in a circle), they don’t want to look like a text addict (on the CrackBerry), so they will take the text, but wait till afterwards to respond. 

However, when they are in an academic class setting (my world) with everyone facing forward, everything is legal because there isn’t any peer pressure from other Millennials.  In church, receiving and sending is totally legal, especially during the preaching.  At work, all is legal as long as your boss isn’t looking.

5.  Ear Buds & iPods – One bud in the ear is legal all the time.  Both buds are considered rude when in a conversation with someone.  However, both buds in are an indication that they don’t want to be bothered.  It is a sign to others, I’m not open for business.  Come back tomorrow.

6.  Finally, they love their online personalities but they still want personal interaction.  Girls don’t like to be asked out online.  That’s icky.  They also don’t want to receive a thank you through a text, they want something personal.

FUN FACT:  One side note I learned is that Millennial girls will send a “mistaken” text message to a guy they are interested in.  They will say they were trying to send the text to a girlfriend, but “whoops” it went to the guy.  Something like “Oh, he’s hot” or “I’d wish he’d ask me out.”  So the guy will get the text message and know the girl is interested.  And they will just play it off as if they don’t know what happened.  “I just got this phone. I must’ve hit the wrong button.”

It appears new courtship rules apply in the digital age.

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About shanegarrison
I am a married, 30-something living in central KY. I serve as an associate professor of Educational Ministries at Campbellsville University.

One Response to Millennials on Online Relationships

  1. Super post! Thanks for a window into the ever changing world of electronic pseudo communication. I wonder if you are seeing papers written in “text english” I know I have had personal interaction with people who speak txt rather than using the full forms of words. I have actually heard someone say (smiling) LOL…it’s a different world!

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