I read an article online about Ed Sheeran ditching his smartphone. The guy just dropped off the grid because he felt like he was spending too much time on social media and seeing the world through a screen. While I really admire him for it, I don’t think I could bear to be parted from my iPhone – I am way too reliant on it.
Do you remember when mobile phones just started to be a ‘thing’? And everyone would cram as many shorthand words into one measly 7p text message?
>> “Wot RU up2? tb Pam x”
>> “Watchn TV. Wknd plans? tb 🙂 ”
Annoyingly, you had to add your name at the end because for some reason, phones weren’t that technologically advanced to link the stored numbers in your phone book to your inbox messages. Nowadays, forget eyes: phones are the real window to the soul. I can’t imagine anything worse than someone scrolling through my phone – not because I have anything to hide per se – I just don’t want them to be looking at my screen shots or judging my internet history.* Even worse – imagine someone seeing your narcissistic selfies or your private convo’s to your friends.
Yet you hear it all the time. One colleague told us about her and her live in boyfriend, “I just had a gut feeling that something was off, so when he came home drunk one night, I used his fingerprint to unlock his password when he was passed out and looked through his phone. At first I couldn’t find anything, but then I scrolled through his group chat. That’s where I found the pictures of the girl’s he’d cheated on me with. He’d screenshot their Instagram profiles to his friends and they were all talking and laughing at my expense about it. I felt utterly humiliated.” FYI, THIS is what I mean by an example of phones being the real window to the soul. However, I really don’t recomend looking through anyone’s phone. Sage Francis said, “If you snoop around long enough for something in particular, you’re guaranteed to find it.” and he wasn’t lying.
It reminded me of the time a few years ago, when a good friend of mine snooped through her (now ex for obvious reasons) boyfriend’s phone, despite our insistence that she shouldn’t. Upon snooping, she was confronted by a barrage of back and fourth messages between him and a girl who earned herself the nickname, “Agent Provoca-whore” after sending pics of herself to him, wearing crotchless knickers – she worked in AP at the time and unfortunately for her, my friend really has a creative knack for coming up with nicknames.
Another friend of mine, realised her boyfriend was cheating when he accidentally left himself signed into his Facebook account when he borrowed her iPad – rookie error on his part.
But, what other problems arise from using smart phones? For sure the tone of voice over WhatsApp messages is misread all the time. Sometimes, I fire off a message quickly because I am in a rush, and when I look back on it later, it comes across as being blunt. Even a missing ‘x’ at the end of messages can be taken the wrong way if you sign off every message with one, and just like a language, things can get lost in translation so to speak.
While on the subject of WhatsApp – don’t even get me started on the ‘Read Receipts’. Simultaneously a blessing and a curse, many people have tortured themselves over those two little ticks. Who the hell invented that, and for what purpose? So what is worse; blue and unanswered, or grey and ‘online’? Blue – they were interested enough to hear what you had to say, but are too busy or not interested enough to reply? Or grey and ‘online’ – they saw your message and are ignoring it or have a more exciting message to read. You’ll drive yourself demented trying to work out where you rank in someones list of priorities if this is how you measure yourself, and this topic comes up constantly in conversations. “I really like her, but she takes ages to read my messages.”
So, how long is too long between replies? I went on a date with a guy once who would always message me first, asking me all this crap about my life as if he was interested, but after I replied, he would subsequently take at least three days to reply. Dude, that’s not even playing hard to get. I felt like suggesting to him that he set up an auto-response stating, “OUT OF OFFICE – I WILL GET BACK TO YOU WITHIN THREE – FIVE WORKING DAYS.” especially because every messaged started with, “I’ve just been SO busy!”. (insert eye rolling emoji here). Legit no-one is THAT busy. Especially the people that claim to be so, yet still have time to upload twenty Instagram stories documenting every last moment of their day. Needless to say, I stopped replying.
That’s the next thing isn’t it? How will you know someone really isn’t interested in you? Easy, they don’t even bother to reply to your messages. You sent a really casual and lighthearted message – left it a few days and still nothing. If this is you, (and let’s face it, everyone has been there) – then you need to realise that that ship has sailed, and go anchor your boat elsewhere. The same goes if you’ve constructed and sent a witty message in which the long awaited reply reads, “haha” or “lol”.
Pride prevents me from sending another message if someone hasn’t replied to my last one, probably because social media and women’s magazines drum it into girls heads that in absolutely NO situation should we come across as clingy, or even worse, desperate. But why isn’t it socially acceptable to call someone out on their bad text-etiquette? Particularly when it relates to plans? Have we really become so focused on not looking like a creep, that we would rather take shit lying down?
Even worse are the scenarios where someone has completely blanked your WhatsApp message asking to confirm plans or something, but yet has somehow managed to find time to watch your Instagram stories three days in a row.
I can at times be as guilty as the next person. I often open messages mid-task and then forget to reply. The fundamental point here though is that I always reply to the person that I most want to talk to. If I’m messaging them and simultaneously, someone else pings a message to me, take a guess at which one I’m going to reply to first? Despite how much I hate all of this, the one thing I really cannot stand, is when you’re mid conversation with someone, who keeps checking their phone while you’re out with them. Smiling away whilst they look into the screen, you know fine well that they’re not remotely listening to a word you say. You often see couples nowadays, sitting in restaurants in silence, endlessly scrolling on their phones, posing every now and again to take selfies to post online with hashtags like #couplegoals #mylove. People no longer talk to one another – each new generation is losing the ability to form relationships because they cannot even communicate properly without the aid of a cell phone.
So, I think there should be some sort of rule book for text etiquette, and if I could make some of the rules, they would read something like this:
- Don’t sit on Tinder while in a social setting. (one friend came out to dinner with me and sat on Tinder until after an hour, I threatened to leave without paying my half of the bill unless that phone went away.) Be normal – Tinder when you’re home alone and feeling like you need an ego boost or whatever. It’s not cool to sit and edit your endless selfies either.
- If you make plans, and cannot be bothered with aforementioned plans, then just ping a message and say so – rather than ignoring WhatsApp messages.
- If you do not fancy someone, and their constant barrage of messages are annoying you, then say so. Otherwise you lead them up garden path out of social politeness and then you look like a dick when you ghost their messages. Just be honest.
- If you’re going to ghost someone’s messages for whatever reason that might be – then don’t be a keen bean and continue to watch all of their Instagram stories, like their pictures, statuses, etc etc.
- Don’t make other people take a bazillion pictures of you for your social media account just because you think your arm looks fat at that angle.
- If someone isn’t replying to you, scrape your dignity off of the floor and don’t keep messaging them again and again. Maximum (AND ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM) allow yourself
threetwo messages before you take the hint… and if you think you might message them again, then delete their number to save temptation.
- If it’s been more than a week to reply to a message, then just leave it – you’re way too late to the party unless you have a genuine reason. Like, you got hit by a car, or attacked by a wild boar.
- If someone takes more than a week to reply to you, and hits you up with an emoji or a ‘lol” then do yourself a favour, don’t even bother replying.
I can’t think of more rules, so if you can – I’d love to hear your thoughts on texting etiquette. And in the meantime, I am going to aspire to be more like Ed, and maybe gradually, I too will be less reliant on my phone.
Look out for my smoke signals coming to a place near you in 2018.
*Current internet history are things like, “how do you know a cat is in heat” (FYI, I have two kittens – I am not into weird animal stuff.)