Not too long ago, I received a text message from a woman telling me that I come across as apathetic and rude over text messages. I happened to look at my phone during recess while waiting to use the toilet so I didn’t have the time or the attention to care much about what she had to say.
Appending her note, she mentioned that it’s difficult for her to experience an emotional connection with me, or even a kind one. Largely due to the poor use of punctuation, I’m not sure if that’s because of my text messages or my “in person” persona as well.
What’s interesting about this non-continuation agreement is that it highlights the importance of text messages in our understanding of and relationships with people. We’re developing and maintaining relationships using our ability to maintain a functional conversation with someone using words, emojis, pictures, and videos. It’s not so much about maintaining a relationship when you’re with someone as it is about being able to communicate when you’re apart.
I can be an asshole, granted. I’m also pretty particular about using correct grammar and punctuation in text messages. I don’t often use emojis. I like sending links to various things, though. I hate sending and receiving separate text messages for each sentence or line of text message that is being sent; use the return key.
Here’s the thing: I think I’m in the wrong for not communicating properly over text. The way people are reading words and taking in information is constantly changing, and I’m stuck in my old ways. My dad has a better understanding of how to write text messages that make sense than I do. He’s so good at it that I often don’t understand what he’s written.
Text messages have become a form of multimedia, using words as an explanatory rather than expository tool. The epistolary form
is changing has changed. How differently would Poor Folk read today?