The X.

Posted by JSYL on Friday, May 23, 2008 in , ,

I mentioned I would write about this a long time ago. And now the time has come: What is up with the 'x', people?

My first encounter with a 'x' was someone else's. My flatmate came into my room one night gushing about some beautiful boy she'd met in a club, jumping onto my bed to read out his first text since that night so that together, we could dissect the mysteries within it that blatantly spell out how 'into' her he was in neon lights:

"...what you up to next week? Xx"

...say what now?

At first I thought London boys were just a tad too flirty. And yeah, they are. Boys I was only on a first-name basis with would text kisses. But then I realised the 'x' is more of a gender neutral punctuation mark at the end of any text. Exhibit A, casual text from my friend Kate:

"hey, what do u fancy doing? If u are free on thurs by any chance we could have a proper cocktail evening in london? xxxx"

And even between boys as in exhibit B, a generic message from a guy to his entire contact list:

"What u doing this coming Friday night?...keep it free.x"

Maybe I'm just a prude, but the in-text-kiss seemed to be in the same vein as the facebook-poke. (By now it's common knowledge that if more than one poke is exchanged between members of the opposite sex (or the same sex if so inclined), there's definitely a sign of mutual flirtage/sexual tension.)

But it soon became apparent that the deceptively casual nature of the 'x' is what gives it it's infuriating capability to elude the unwitting recipient. To wit: girls, have you noticed that the kisses are so much more free-flowing when you first meet a guy, and soon run out like water on tap in rural Australia the longer you've known them? And guys, doesn't it seem like you get more kisses when a favour is asked of you via text?

And hasn't everyone at some point or another, wondered why a text that would ordinarily demand a 'x', for some reason has disappeared? What, you think, have you done to deserve this? For people who have become accustomed to regular kisses, the absence of said kiss suddenly makes the message seem harsh, abrasive even, though it may not have been intended by the texter who hastily typed it out while rushing to make the tube. But though you can't really be annoyed at the lack of an 'x' because it's only meant to be a subconscious afterthought, the confusion caused still lingers. The 'x' has therefore changed the very nature of texting itself.

Coming from a city and a generation where sms is sometimes used to flirt, but more often to pass on information as quickly and cheaply as possible, the concept of a single letter wreaking so much havoc is a foreign one to me. After all, in person I generally limit my kisses to significant others, and cheek kisses to close air-kissable friends. Even hugs I tend to restrict to friends that I haven't seen for at least a week-long period.

So why a need to kiss-in-text? It's just mindgames of a facebook age, people. I only have one local friend in London who refuses to subscribe to a signature 'x', 'xx', or, as with the more extreme flirters in my circle, 'Xxx' (gramatically correct as they are here :P) at the end of his texts. Sure, he starts each message addressing me as "loser", "buttplug" or "doylum" interchangeably, but at least i know he's sincere.



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