The other day I was on the bus and couldn’t help but notice a guy furiously typing away a wall of text to someone. We’re talking about an endless paragraph that if I didn’t know better, looked like an email.
But it wasn’t.
I have no idea what the message was about or who it was for, but I think I’d be really freaked out if someone sent me a text that long. I feel weird sending one that’s longer than the 160 allowable characters as it is.
Text messaging has replaced every form of communication and the nuances are subtle and often times subjective.
I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly ending a sentence with a period seems too firm. The timing of replying has changed for me. I pretty much get back to someone as soon as I can (when I actually see the message) instead of waiting. I just don’t see the sense. If the point is to play The Game, I merely respond with something innocuous and typically without a follow up question.
Time in between texts gets way more touchy when you’re starting to date someone or in a relationship. I remember with two people in particular I hadn’t heard from them in five days. With both, I took that as a sign that they truly didn’t give a shit.
And I was right.
The time of day or night in sending or receiving is also key. I feel like the turning point is 10 pm. Before seems like a somewhat reasonable time to see what someone is up to. After midnight is probably only acceptable in the industry world, which I’m not a part of. But after 2 a.m.? We all know what that means. Even if it’s not a straight up booty call, it’s certainly some kind of drunken accident/mistake that would not have happened otherwise. Text allows you to send something late or early without much consequence other than annoyance or suspicion.
There’s often not a good way to “end” a text conversation. It just sort of fizzles out, yet it’s hard not to notice when you’re the last person who wrote. Then you’re left deciding if and when you’ll text again. Later that day? The next morning? The next day, but later? Never? If I instigated today, can I not tomorrow?
Don’t get too detailed. Don’t write too many sentences. Don’t use too many exclamation points. Don’t ask too many questions. Don’t ask the wrong questions. Don’t double text. Don’t triple text. Don’t text shout. Don’t use “lol”.
How about the utter agony and full on panic we experience if our phone dies or we accidentally leave it at home? Ask any one of my friends about my obnoxious use of my phone charger. The best is when you finally do get around to checking your phone after not having it for an entire day and no one has messaged you. Or if they have, it wasn’t important at all because NEWS FLASH: It never really is. But, but, how will we tell someone we’re running 5 minutes late, or that there’s a really smelly person on the bus or that there’s a line outside or that we’re already inside waiting?!?!
Or how about the constant anger and exasperation when we don’t hear from someone? “I KNOW they got my message”. I have no idea how many hours (read: days, weeks, months) I’ve lost experiencing these feelings, but it’s too many. Our expectation of getting a response is at do or die levels at all times. Apparently we are all on-call emergency room doctors.
Remember the days when you picked up the phone and called someone and prayed they’d answers instead of hoping for their voicemail? Remember hearing the sound of someone’s voice, someone’s sighs, someone’s laughter, feeling their hesitations, changes in tone, detecting sarcasm? Remember not being cut off by a dropped call or the sound of the train in the background or loud bar noises while the person screams “I CAN’T HEAR YOU”?
What is a conversation without a genuine reaction? Where’s the satisfaction in trying to make someone laugh only to elicit a “HAHAHA”? How can you be sweet when the best response is “Awwwwww”? Worse yet, relying on a method of communication that allows you to edit, erase and “fix” doesn’t translate in the real world of person to person contact.
There’s no emotion in texting. No one but my fellow bus passengers can see that my furious typing translates into anger. Only I know the intent of certain comma placements or ellipses (I use these a lot…).
I don’t know if I’ll ever perfect the “art” of text messaging and frankly, I sort of wish I didn’t have to.