TEXTING is the most treacherous form of communication known to humanity. With a phone call, your tone conveys a world of nuance. Using email you can write and write until you've got your message across (and then some). Talk to someone in the flesh, and body language does most of the heavy lifting.
But the text message is fraught with potential for misunderstanding.
Should you gush? Is a two-word response efficient and to the point – or excessively curt? Are capital letters OTT? What about exclamation marks? And, of course, the ultimate dilemma: to emoticon or not to emoticon?
That's without even delving into the social consequences of living in a world where texting is increasingly the medium of choice for dispatching bad news.
People are sacked by text. We text falsehoods we would never dare tell a person to their face (how often have you backed out of a commitment via a curt SMS and not felt even a quiver of guilt?). Just last month Katy Perry claimed that her ex Russell Brand delivered his divorce request via text.
Here are the eight types of texter. If you can't recognise yourself, it can only be because you are in deep, deep denial.
He's 35, but as his fingers glide over the touch-screen of his Nexus 4, the LOL-er regresses to a squeaky-throated, backward baseball cap-toting 14-and-a-half.
When he doesn't know exactly how to respond to a message, he'll shoot back with a can't-fail 'LOL'. Mildly shocking news elicits a down-with-the-kids 'OMG!' He has been known, after a few drinks, to send smiley face symbols to work colleagues.
You should see his Facebook page (actually no, perhaps you shouldn't).
The texting weasel
He agreed to meet you for a drink tonight. Guess what? 'Something' has come up. Funny – 'something' forced him to call a rain check on the rendezvous you'd arranged last month, too.
Back in the day, wheedling out of social commitments carried with it a certain awkwardness. You'd have to phone up or risk a friendship-testing no show. Texting is the ultimate liar's lubricant and squirming free of obligations has never been easier.
The texting addict
They seemed to know about Drico being dropped before he did. It's like being plugged into their frontal lobe. If you are unlucky, the texting addict may have secondary LOL-er symptoms and will fill your inbox with an unceasing torrent of ROFLs and XOXOs.
The one-way texter
Minimalist to a fault, the one-way texter believes messages should be succinct, gutted of humour and low on flummery. Patter is unbecoming –demeaning, even. Don't be insulted if they do not even reply. It is enough that they have received your message. If you're lucky they may shoot back with a sour-pussed 'yeah' or 'okay'.