Shouldn’t there be protocol for texting?
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:57AM
Over the last years, I’ve voiced my opinion on texting, its tendency toward poor grammar, interrupted sleep and grunt-like conversations with our kids. But today, I confide a personal concern about America’s preferred method of quick communication. It’s just too quick for me.
You know I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity for a perfectly timed column on summer fun or back-to-school shopping if this weren’t some truly critical dilemma. Texting just has to be addressed. It needs some protocol and place in my world. Sure, I use it to quickly finalize the time for a dinner reservation or pick-up location as much as the next person. But when friends and family use it for extended conversation, I find myself rushed, wondering, often unreplied to.
Think about how hard it is to infuse any feeling or enthusiasm into a text. I drive myself crazy adding in exclamation points, smiley faces, and the like. Have you ever proclaimed the sheer delight of the romantic comedy you saw last night and ask your girlfriend if she saw it and/or liked it and all you get texted back is, “Yeah.” Uhh, yeah you saw it or yeah you liked it or is your smiley face emoticon just broken or you’re just in a bad mood or I’m just oversensitive to the abrupt nature of one-word text replies?
How about the whole “x’s” and “o’s” thing? I have so many people in my life that I want to text an “x” or “o” to and you just sort of wonder how well acquainted you have to be before you add those in. There’s nothing more awkward than a prematurely texted hug or kiss, right? One can never be too sure. My husband will add an “xo” to a text even when I’m pretty sure he’s mad at me, at which time I just stare at my phone and wonder if I then reply with an “xoxoxo” I might be forgiven for buying sweetened iced tea instead of unsweetened.
And I ask you, what constitutes the end of a text conversation or a proper “laugh out loud (lol)” reply at some half attempt at humor? I may not often succeed, but I do try to be funny, even while forced to text-converse. Do you, like me, add in some self-conscious “haha” before hitting send so your text recipient is realllly sure you were trying to be funny? Then they don’t even reply or lol? How awkward is that?
When does a text conversation end? When someone walks into a meeting, church, bathroom or other non–textable environment? (Well, yes, I know people who text from the bathroom. We’re just spared the toilet flushing in the background. )
People just really need to pay attention to the personality of these conversations if they’re beyond some four-word confirmation of your happy hour meeting place. I need context, replies, smiley faces, and if we’re in each other’s daily world, an occasional “xo” wouldn’t hurt, either.
So let me know when you’re signing off, when you think I’m a little humorous, when you didn’t like the movie. And if you still care to have “real” conversation, just call me. K? (Or is it “kk?”)
Lake Forester columnist Maria Malin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org