Bad Texters

I’m a horrible texter. My friends complain about me not looking at the videos they send me when they mention a joke from a TikTok later in conversation. I’m a chronic do not disturb user. I’ll get a notification, look at it, tell myself, “I’m going to read what that says and then reply to it,” and then I leave the little number telling me how many unread messages I have to sit and grow for three days. This is obviously a very bad habit of mine. Still, there are codes and rituals that we as digital natives take part in every time we respond to someone in text or interpret someone else’s response in text

The Medium is the Message

I have 8 different platforms on my phone that I use to text people with regularity and I definitely feel like my replying tendencies vary depending on the medium where the conversation is taking place. There are a surplus of different ways to contact one another digitally and each of these ways has its own rules and features. For instance, I ascribe more urgency and importance to an iMessage text than an Instagram DM and thus will be more likely to respond to it quickly. This is probably because I see Instagram as less personal. More people have access to my social media than my phone number so if someone is able to text me on iMessage they’re probably important to me. Instagram is also not primarily a texting platform- DMs are optional but not required. iMessage on the other hand would be nothing at all if the texting feature was removed so something in my mind tells me replying on iMessage is more important.

Not Replying at all

The article Ghosting in Emerging Adults’ Romantic Relationships: The Digital Dissolution Disappearance Strategy defines ghosting as, “Unilaterally ceasing communication (temporarily or permanently) in an effort to withdraw access to individual(s) prompting relationship dissolution (suddenly or gradually) commonly enacted via one or multiple technological mediums.” It’s a strategy of just ignoring someone in the digital space and hoping your relationship disappears without further messiness. It’s something that wasn’t possible in the same way before the digital age when a longer reply wait time was to be expected, and it’s a term that has more emotional weight than just not replying. Being ghosted hurts, and where exactly the line is for what counts as ghosting is a matter of opinion. While the above definition is useful to understand the phenomenon at large, it lacks specificity. What one person sees as ghosting might be totally acceptable for another person. Is it ghosting to not reply on a dating app after a short text conversation or is it a term reserved only for cutting off contact after you’ve moved from the dating app to other digital mediums? Does it count as ghosting before you’ve met in person? Does using an emoji reaction count as replying or is this also ghosting? 

Do you guys have any thoughts on replies and their meanings? What are your replying habits like?