Tip #70: When Texting, Know Your Audience

Written by: Charlotte

Nowadays, we communicate almost exclusively via text message. A call comes through on our phones and our immediate thought is, “WHO DIED?!” My mother’s favorite phrase in the English language is, “Why don’t you just call them?” if I mention anything to do with texting. And I have to explain that if I called whoever I was texting, they would think I was in the hospital and they were my Emergency Contact.

Because texting is the main form of communication for all millennial, and a handful cool parents, my texting technique has evolved since the days of T-9 and I’ve learned some do’s and don’t’s over the years that I will now impart upon you:

Read the room

Like all forms of communication, there is a difference between the way you speak with your Aunt Judith, for example, and the way you speak with your best friend. Aunty Judith sends you a text that says, “Hi honey, did your father get a new email address? Could you send it to me? –Aunty Judith.” (Raise your hand if all of your relatives over the age of 65 sign their text messages as if they were sending you a postcard from their vacation in Fort Lauderdale). You reply with an exceedingly polite, “Hi Aunty Judith! Great to hear from you! Yes, here is my dad’s new address: dad@dad.com.”

In contrast, here is a picture of a real-life texting conversation between me and Tasha:

For context, this video is literally of a waffle falling over. It’s 7 seconds long and I highly recommend you watch it.

I feel completely comfortable texting Tasha 80 times in a row (90 if she’s not paying attention to me) about absolute garbage nonsense, but when Aunty Judith (a mythical character that would never in a million years be able to open that really important YouTube link) shows up on my home screen, I switch on the best version of myself.

As a rule of thumb, if your recipient, given the option, would rather speak with you on the phone or, God forbid, in person, best to keep things business-professional. But, if you find a video of similar importance to the waffle video, it’s totally fine to text all your friends at least 7 times in a row.

Consolidate conversations

One of my pet peeves is when I receive a text message filled with questions. Not that I don’t love to catch up with friends, but when I open a text message asking me about my job, my family, my dating life, and what I think about the Bachelor, I go into sensory overload and immediately throw my phone in the toilet. It’s not the best reaction, I’ll admit it.

In this situation, you have 3 options:

  1. Send a separate message for each individual question
  2. Ignore all questions and ask them how they are instead
  3. Answer all the questions in one mega-text

If you go with A, suddenly you’re having several simultaneous conversations with one person. One is about your job, the other is about your dating life and the third is about your mutual friend who is starting her own line of sweaters for dogs. You are shooting off text messages at lightning speed in hopes that you’ll get all of your points out before she can respond, thus interrupting your flow and potentially starting yet another conversation inside of this nightmare catch-up (ok, I guess I understand why my mother is so insistent on calling people).

I’ve learned, though, that usually your friend with all the questions only really wants to talk about one thing, so the best course of action is to pick one question, answer it thoroughly, and ignore all other questions. So B. B is the correct answer.

Major Takeaways

  1. If you get a text from any relative over the age of 43, keep your texts in full-sentence form. If you’re texting a very good friend, follow your instincts and send 900 texts in a row. 901 to make sure they’re alive.
  2. When in doubt, answer one question. ONE. Otherwise, clear your schedule for the next several hours as you try to juggle 4 conversations with the same person at the same time.
  3. Honestly, my mom’s right, you should probably just call whoever you’re about to text.