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'What's with the TONE?'

August 22, 2011
By TAMMY R. LAWSON - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Earlier this summer, I read where researchers in Austria and Canada conducted a study, citing while cell-phone use appears to increase testosterone levels in men, it might possibly lead to a decrease in fertility.

After speaking with a couple of guys this past weekend, that's the least of their problems in terms of mobile devices.

To them, those portable talkers can lead to unwarranted attitude from ... the ladies.

I finished dinner at a local restaurant one evening when two gentlemen, of whom we shall call 'Socrates and Aristotle,' were talking about women folk they have corresponded with in their day, and how females can get quite snippy when it comes to mobile messaging.

Once upon a time, there was a way to communicate using a wall-mount or desk-top telephone over a land line. This was long before the invention of answering machines or voice mail. If it rang and you weren't in the mood to converse, there was a sure way to avoid such - don't pick up the receiver.

Not anymore.

If in possession of a cell phone, you can be reached anywhere in a 24-hour span because it's all but surgically attached to the inside of one's pocket or purse.

And since some of us women have our flippant ways, the cell phone has been, of sorts, a brick in the wall of miscommunication.

Therefore, I was given examples of message diplomacy:

"If a girl sends you a text," said Socrates, "and you don't respond as soon as it comes in, do you know what you get next?"


"Another text almost immediately, saying 'Why aren't you talking to me?'"

OK, I admit. I laughed right out loud at this.

"That's the beauty of cell phones," Aristotle said. "You can shut them off."

(Or, say the battery went dead and take your chances when you see 'her' face to face.)

They both also agreed to having received the dreaded 'tone' insinuation.

"A girl will send you a text and ask you a question," Socrates said. "If you DO reply and she doesn't like your answer, guess what you get?"

I knew this was going to be good.

"'What's with the TONE??'" he said in pure, mimicking manner. "HOW can a woman get a TONE out of something typed on the keyboard of a CELL PHONE?"

"Yep! Yep!," Aristotle said. "And if everything is typed in CAPITAL LETTERS, she has a death plan for you."

But, probably the instance that can backfire on men above else? The dreaded smiley face. :-) This tiny thing can give 'smart phone' a whole new meaning.

"Heaven forbid you put one of THOSE at the end of the sentence," Socrates said. "They then think you're giving them an attitude and will text you as fast as their thumbs can go, just to say, 'And what's THAT supposed to mean???'"

"What's WHAT supposed to mean?" he asks - and she texts back, "That smiley face?"

Socrates has since stopped using the emoticon for obvious reasons.


Reporter Tammy R. Lawson is a Monday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Tammy R. Lawson at 641-753-6611 or



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