How much e-affection should you dispense? And the debate rumbles on like the techno cum life story it has been for the past 15 years. Textually speaking, in the years since I got my first ever Nokia 3395 and promptly covered it's ugly matte blue skin in a high-shine faux Burberry check cover, I've subtly changed my stance.
Age 13: Left a single 'x' on all texts.
Age 15: Left as many as physically possible. Some of my friends still do this. And I feel touched when I receive 'Xxxxxxx' at the end of a perfectly quotidian text when I've done nothing remotely special to warrant said litany.
Age 18: Got really alt, here. Wouldn't leave any kisses at all. Not one. For at least 2 years. Instead, my 'thing' was to address everyone really winningly, in lieu of a kiss. Sure, you wouldn't get an 'x' but you could always count on a 'darling' or a 'beautiful' in there. Faintly creepy, now I think about it.
Age 21-present: Back to the single 'x' on all correspondence. Always. Except two for a lover. Always.
But texts are not the issue. Texts are safe ground (until you text your dad instead of your boyfriend. Lol. The best is when you text your home phone by accident and that very sedated woman robotically reads out your text with all the wrong inflections.) It's e-mails which are a hotbed of anxiety. Where there are plenty of industries where you would never even think to leave an 'x' at the end of an e-mail; where calling your colleague 'sweetie' would mortify you so much you'd want to hide in the loo for 47 hours - there is also the fashion industry, which is more luvvie than a thesp in a codpiece. It thrives on sugar over substance, exorbitant price tags and more Xs than you have hot dinners.
It's actually, I would warrant, rude to end an e-mail when you work in fashion, sans x. It's akin to saying, "Take your sheer perspex armpit-less body stocking and shove it up the ass of your newly received press release." In short, it would be unexpected and largely, considered rude. I do still get discomfited when the e-mail goes 'sooooo fashion' it ends up reading like this: "Hi babe! How are you gorgeous? Want to see you soon! Check out this amazing new brand that I think you are gonna LOVE." I have actually received that identical e-mail. AND I HAD NEVER MET THE GIRL. But I can't deny that I'm an 'x' counter. Even on work e-mails.
A single 'x' and I'm happy. It's the norm, sure, but it's classy. It's restrained but kind, with just a soupçon of affection in there. If I get two, though, I will be thrilled. Like I won this year's Prom Queen. Three from someone who never gives them, and I get a little sceptical - I know someone's trying to butter me up. But none? I wonder what I've done wrong. Seriously. If I get an e-mail from my boss without a kiss, I'm 99% sure I'm about to be fired.
The thing is, we're a demonstrative generation. We're all cuddles and kisses and 'love you love you' (but not all at once. We're not living through Mean Girls or anything.) We thrive on affection and approbation. My parents don't bandy around 'love you' like it's a regular greeting and in fact they end every conversation with 'God bless' rather than 'love you'. It's normal to me. They certainly, certainly wouldn't be interested in becoming arbiters of the 'x' game. Because there's nothing behind an 'x'. It's not an indication of how much someone likes you; it's just the accepted norm in the fashion industry, for better or for worse. Corporate correspondence between two colleagues who share a great deal of affection for one another but would never dream of ending their missives with an 'x', is surely proof that the virtual kiss means nothing.
Fretting about whether or not to leave an 'x' on a work e-mail is testament to the daily tribulations that technology has brought into our lives. It's hazardous, right? I think the best thing is to remain subtle and sanguine. I will leave a single kiss, sure, but you can hold the babes and sweeties. (Fine for friends via text.) Regardless of whether I am thrilled or furious (I too have withheld my electronic affection when I feel the recipient is not deserving) I'm not going to freak out every time an e-mail ends without one. I'm going to start stamp collecting, instead.