How to Not Be a Basket Case When Texting
I recently read an article in the New York Times in which the columnist’s therapist told her to disable the “typing awareness indicator” on her phone, because it caused too much anxiety. The typing awareness indicator she was talking about are the three dots that pop up on the iPhone when someone is typing a reply.
You know, those three dots. The ones that will ultimately tell you whether your crush is going to meet you for the movies tonight. Or if your boyfriend is still mad. Or if your friend is angry because you want to cancel your spring break trip to the Bahamas (it’s overplayed anyway).
And it’s not just the three dots that seem to cause anxiety. It’s knowing that your message was read on iMessage or “seen” on Facebook messenger. It’s honestly not even the knowing part — it’s that no one has responded and it’s definitely been ten minutes. It’s the waiting-in-between silence and wondering what answer will appear.
It’s the “What will they say?” and, “Did they understand what I meant?” and, “Maybe I should have put a period instead of an exclamation point.”
For some reason, technology wants us to be constant basket cases, overanalyzing our every last word, while we wait for the next reply. But we’re better than that!
So, here are ways to chill out when those three dots appear. I promise, it’s going to be okay.
1. Don’t double text. If there were a rulebook for texting (someone should actually get on that), double texting would be one of the cardinal sins. It’s like eating a chocolate cookie before it’s completely done baking. You have to give the cookie time. And when it comes to texting, you have to give the person time to respond. Sending another text gives added pressure to the conversation, and that’s melodramatic anyway. No one is thinking about sending another text if this is a chill conversation about the weather. Plus, if you’re talking about the weather in a conversation, please don’t. It’s cold. It’s raining. It’s gray outside. It’s Syracuse, what else could you possibly say? Go eat a cookie while you wait for that text instead of sending another one. Just make sure it’s ready first.
2. Talk to your friends. You should definitely distract yourself by talking to a friend, but make sure you pick the right friend to talk to. Don’t talk to the friend that gets you worked up about why it’s taking your texting buddy so long to respond. You know the friend I’m talking about — the one that’s walking around like the sky is falling because someone accidentally deleted every season of Parks and Rec from their DVR. The one that will probably tell you your crush hates you because you used three commas, instead of two (yeah, this is a real thing people obsess over). Talk to the friend that will completely take your mind off the issue. The one that will talk to you about class, Halloween costumes, or just anything besides those three dots that are haunting your screen.
3. Close the screen. You’re just sitting there looking at the three dots, and wondering what they’re going to say. Or you’re sitting there looking at the taunting “seen” notification and the check mark on your Facebook messenger app with your mouth wide open. Close the screen. Please, just close it. If you sit there any longer, your brain will probably explode after thinking of all the possibilities of what they could be typing. They will probably just type back a “Yeah” or “K” anyway, so move on. Close the screen and regain some of your dignity. If this conversation flubs, there’s probably a better one waiting in the future.
4. Pick up the phone. Wait, what? Actually talk to a live human being instead of texting them words through a screen? Yes, do it. Call them. If you really want to know what they’re about to say, then call them. Texting is really not a great source of communication anyway. Since this conversation is probably with someone that is semi-important to you, make the effort to call them if you really want to know what they’re about to say. This isn’t the midseason cliffhanger of Scandal. You don’t have to wait months to find out what’s about to happen. End the drama and find out.
5. Get some perspective. This is just a text message. This is just one of the many conversations you’ll have throughout your life. Why are you obsessing over this one like it’s the last one you’ll ever have? So maybe you came on a little too strong with your flirting emojis? Or you said something you shouldn’t have? We’ve all been there, embarrassed by the words we can never get back. But you’re young and this is just the beginning. Maybe they’ll respond or maybe they won’t. Maybe you’ll get back a witty comment or maybe you’ll get just a “K”. Either way, it’s not the end of the world. Go eat some cookies and go talk to some people in person. Texting is overrated, anyway.