Monday, February 4, 2013

Returning Text Messages: A Power Play

by Kate Collins

Text conversation:

R U busy?
I'm writing.
Can I ask you a quick question?
Do you still have that recipe for beef stew with wine that you made last spring? That was so good I want to make it again but I can't find my copy, so I'm hoping you have one.
I'll check later.
Can you do it like now? I need to go to the store.
Um, I'm writing right now.
Oh . . . okay . . . Well . . .

Thank kind of conversation annoys the heck out of me. In the first place, I'd just said I was writing, so why did this tester think her quick question wouldn't bother me?

In the second place, it wasn't quick at all because it involved me having to go to the kitchen to hunt down an elusive recipe.

In the third place, that last line was designed to make me feel guilty for not dropping everything to help her. And notice how she doesn't end it. She just drifts off, ostensibly to pout.

In the fourth place, what's up with all those periods? Have you ever tried reading one of those lines out loud? What do you do in all that free space? Take breaths? Drop your voice an octave? I know someone who writes entire text messages using three periods between each thought. Talk . . . about . . . irritating . . .

In the fifth place, why on earth did I answer that text message in the first place? I was writing!

Why? Because I feel rude when I don't answer right away. Because I've sent text messages that have gone unanswered for almost a day and I wonder if it even got through. I don't want somebody I know to suffer the same fate.

Then I read an article that said the timing of an answer is basically a power struggle. If you do answer it right away, you're letting the other person take control of you. Depending on who that other person is, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. Most of my friends respect me enough to stop texting when I say I'm busy doing something, but there are those annoying few who refuse to take a hint.

So by replying to Miss Annoying's text, my subconscious message to her was that I was free enough to answer her text, and yet I wasn't kind enough to help her right then. It was a lose/lose situation.

How do you handle pesky texters?