Lost in translation, or texting in 2017

I have a love/hate relationship with texting. I love it for obvious reasons: you don’t have to actually speak to anyone and it isn’t time sensitive. Those are also reasons why I hate it.

Here’s the thing — like most things in life, we, as humans, have ruined texting. We have put so much weight on texts and it makes no sense because texting is supposed to make things easier, not more difficult.

Before texting, we had AIM. Remember your buddy icon? In middle school, I would spend hours on AIM talking to whoever my boyfriend was that week. The conversation usually went something like this:

HIM: whats up

ME: nm, wby?

HIM: nm just chillin

ME: cool

HIM: k gtg my mom says dinners rdy

ME: ok ily

HIM: ily2

And then went in circles until our relationship inevitably died. It was meaningless! Now, in 2017, the game has changed. Texts mean a lot. If you don’t text your boo enough, that could be a sign of a doomed relationship. WHAT!? How did we get here? Just because we have access to constant communication doesn’t mean that we should be in constant contact. What will we talk about in person? I have a few people who I talk to everyday who I shoot the shit with. We don’t talk about anything real, rather send memes all day. That’s what friendship is now, just an endless thread of memes, right?

But, to have a real conversation over text is confusing with most people. There are too many things that cannot and will not translate over text. I asked my friends what they find doesn’t translate and they had a lot to say.

Timing

The ebb and flow of conversation in general doesn’t translate over text. If you have more than one thought in a single message or ask more than one question, then everything is already confusing. You have to respond to 2 different things and the timing is all off. You don’t naturally ask 2 things at once. In face-to-face conversations, you discuss one thing and then move on to the next based on the other person’s response. In texting, you could have the same conversation for 7 hours depending on how long it takes someone respond. This is awful. I promise no one enjoys talking about what they did at work today over the span of 7 hours. Stop this immediately.

Syntax and inflection

The way that you say things is just as important as what you say. Have you ever tried to say the same thing 3 different times with emphasis on a different word each time and realize that you just said 3 different things? Language is crazy! However, this is not good news for texting. One of my friends, Rose told me a story on how this went horribly wrong for her.

She said, “So, a few years ago, I was looking up Halloween costumes for my bosses. The dad was going to be Olaf. I send them a link to one I found on Amazon with this sentence: ‘This is the only adult Olaf costume I could find. I think you’ll be very hot in it.’ It’s a full body fleece costume, I meant he would burn up from heat inside it, but it translated to me calling him hot.”

“K”

Everyone knows that if you get hit with “k,” it’s over. “K” is arguably the worst and most passive aggressive response that anyone could give. But, why? In real life, we can say “Kay!” and it’s fine. Even if that is exactly how you mean it over text, it will never be acceptable. However, if you say “kk,” it’s a whole other story. Emily said, “Multiple ks very different than single k. Single ks always make me feel like — why you so salty?”

Multiple “k’s” are acceptable, but a single “k” is death. Maybe we should just resolve to not use “k” at all.

Saying “I’m sorry”

First of all, if you are apologizing over text, don’t. Stop. Shut it down because if you are texting a sorry, then you probably don’t mean it in the first place. “Apologies in real life require eye contact and vulnerability for both parties. It just never means as much. Even just hearing the emotion in someone’s voice is far superior than a text bubble,” Kathleen told me. I have to agree. I would send a passive aggressive “k” to any “I’m sorry” text I received.

Lol

“Lol” is meaningless at this point. Are you laughing out loud? Of course you aren’t, only an insane person would be laughing when they say “lol.” If you’re really laughing, you’re saying “hahahahah” with a million cry-face laugh emojis. Everyone knows this. For example, my friend Brianna said, “I HATE when my friends say ‘lol’ when we are talking about something semi-serious and they say, ‘lol okay.’ It’s like, “OKAY NOW IT’S SERIOUS” and they’re like…no I’m just saying okay.” Saying “lol” is nothing more than a filler that no one really knows why they are using. Let’s stop using “lol” for no reason in 2017.

All Caps

WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE TIME TO USE ALL CAPS? I usually use it when I am joking around. Other people use it when they’re mad. Are you yelling? Are you excited or upset? No one knows. However, I have to admit that I use all caps all the time. It’s fun and confusing, which is the point of texting, yes? WHATEVER I SAY IN CAPS SEEMS URGENT AND IMPORTANT. Sorry, I’ll try to stop.

Sarcasm

The bane of my existence. The reason I don’t love texting. I would say about 92% of everything I say is sarcastic. It doesn’t translate over text. IT JUST DOESN’T. Especially, if we go back to the whole timing thing. I can say something then will have to follow up saying that I’m kidding because my dark, dry sense of sarcastic humor doesn’t translate. There are like 2 people who get the way I text and that is because they are the same as me. It just gets awkward and they reply “lol” because THEY DON’T GET IT. I don’t blame them. I mean, you need to see my eyeballs and my facial expression to truly understand the sarcasm I am emitting. Three sarcastic friends agreed, which means this is too real.

We are truly living in the time of everything being lost in translation. Let’s resolve to use texting as a way to check in, make plans and send memes. Everything else should be reserved for “real life.” Whatever that means.