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The Globe and Mail

Do you Tweet, text, BBM, or - gasp - call?

At the end of that perfect first date, before you parted ways, she said, "Call me."

What may have been a straightforward direction 10 years ago is ambiguous now. You asked your date out in a Facebook message and the two of you exchanged text messages to confirm location.

Sure, it's what the late great etiquette expert Emily Post would recommend, but your date doesn't actually want you to call her, does she? It'll ring a few times, then go to her voicemail and then you'll have to leave a long, rambly message (this is the only kind of message you know how to leave since you're so out of practice) telling her you had fun and you want to get together again.

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Problem is, she won't get your message till days later since checking voicemail is such a nuisance, and she'll be annoyed you didn't get in touch. Yes, text message it is; Emily Post be damned.

J.D. Power and Associates' semi-annual study of wireless use and habits in the U.S. published yesterday found wireless customers are using their phones less for talk time and more for texting - a consistent trend over the last number of years.

Talk time was down 15 per cent from 527 minutes a month in 2009 to 450 minutes a month this year.

The average customer sent and received an average of 500 text messages a month (this is averaged out with all users - among teens and young adults, the average is much higher).

But as Frank Bruni points out in a recent op-ed for the New York Times, it's not as simple as choosing between a phone call and a text message. In the new communication reality, there are so many ways to get in touch with people that it's hard to know which medium to choose.

A Twitter @-reply? A Twitter direct message? A Facebook wall post? A Facebook private message? A BBM? An e-mail?

One of Mr. Bruni's friends has two mobiles, two office lines and a home phone. But this friend prefers e-mail (though good luck figuring out which of his three addresses to choose). It makes one nostalgic for the days when you could only reach people by landline or snail mail (which doesn't even seem like that long ago).

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If you just dropped your daughter off at university and don't want to tweet, Facebook, BBM, text or e-mail her to get in touch, you could try phoning, but odds are she might not pick up without knowing you've scheduled a call.

Mr. Bruni points out that phone calls are no longer spontaneous, but rather pre-planned interactions, coordinated via another form of communication. In another New York Times story from earlier this year, Pamela Paul goes as far as to say phone calls are "rude. Intrusive. Awkward."

How do you deal with your friends', co-workers' and family members' long lists of contact information? Which way do you prefer people get in touch with you?

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