Text Etiquette- Because Good Manners Never Hurt Anyone.

I have a love,  hate,  love,  need , Acckkk! relationship with texting.  I am in awe of the fact that technology – Bitch that it is – has brought us to be able to send messages back and forth at the speed of whatever it is that carries them and stay in contact with someone even when we are unable to talk.  It is a great way (although not necessarily a polite or good thing to do) to say things that are hard to say on the phone or in person.  

You can send pictures and jokes and all kinds of cool stuff via the text app on most phones out there today.  Up until I started this blog I was a prolific texter especially when I was lonely or heading towards the deep end.  Sometimes I just let my mind go and send out long profound ( ok sometimes not so much)  text messages and just getting out of my head and to someone else was all I needed.  I still am wordy on my texts sometimes, much to my older children’s annoyance, but I am learning.

As much as I love texting and being able to express my self that way, there are things about it that annoy the crap out of me.  I am guilty of doing some of them occasionally but there are some that boil down to just plain good manners.  And common decency.   Or lack thereof when the offense is perpetrated.  I was brought up to be polite and I know I taught my kids manners so I have a really hard time understanding some of the most common rude, crappy things people do while texting.

I am quite sure there is a whole different set of thoughts on texting by the younger generation that doesn’t realize a whole hell of a lot of us grew up without it.  Without even the concept of it.  And I am fairly amiable to the shortcuts and abbreviations that are utilized regularly now in texting.  I even sometimes fall into the way of it while I am typing email or blogging.  It usually happens if I have texted a lot right before.  I laugh with  myself when I catch it, but amiable or not, I am appalled at the butchering of the English language and rules of grammar.

I can only imagine my grandfather’s reaction if he had seen it.  He was having a hard enough time with email and that nobody seemed to know how to write a letter anymore.  The kind with a greeting and a body and properly signed.  That was something I struggled with as well.  I was taught how to write a proper letter and that there was proper way to write a letter and I worried too that the informality and ease of email would make letter writing a lost art.

I think the jury is still out but I do know it has made letters to paper, the kind you get in the mail, rip open and absorb every word and tuck away to keep somewhere safe damn near obsolete.  That indeed I fear is a lost art and makes me glad I saved letters from my past in my hope chest.

When it comes to texting , I wonder if people just do the stuff they do because there was no How To class and it was just here one day.  Kind of a make it up as you go mentality.  More like anything goes.  Has Miss Manners deemed it worthy to discuss this issue yet or is she still worried about the proper etiquette of the second to fifth marriage weddings?

Where are the rules?  Where are the guidelines?  Aren’t they teaching texting with English in school these days?  It doesn’t seem like a very responsible thing to do, let anybody and their mother have access to a phone with text with no qualifications. I mean for Pete’s sake duh!

In my opinion, the older crowd just figured it’s a form of “written ” language” and thus the rules apply.  And it seems to me, that is how it should be.  I am a little freer in my thinking, ok with the abbreviations and lack of punctuation common to texting.  To a point.  But I also choose to do it that way because I know the rules and know better.

The younger crowd, they are not bound by any similar rules and break them all because they don’t know them.  Ignorance in this case is a crappy excuse.  Even if grammar, punctuation and spelling is out the window, common decency and good manners should not be so blatantly ignored.

And so, because I am sick and friggin tired of the complete disregard and ignorance of people who text  thoughtlessly, I am getting on my soapbox and filling in for Miss Manners while she catches up to email.  If Miss Manners has actually come to the era of texting, I apologize for butting in but apparently her word is not law like it once used to be,  I would rather think that she is getting too old to be hip than that people just don’t give a crap about other people’s feelings anymore.

You ought to feel lucky that it is coming from me.  My Mean Streak was hot to be the instructor on this lesson but I prefer to try to get my point across peacefully.  Nice like.

Text Etiquette:  LizzieCracked’s Rules for Responsible, Polite Texting.

  • Treat the text message conversation just like a phone call.  This is especially important for people you are just starting to text. There is a person on the other end of the conversation and you should react accordingly.  If you receive a text and can not take a few minutes, respond that you are busy but will get back to them, then do it!  Once you have an established relationship and understand the daily goings on or the way the other persons mind works you can adjust accordingly but it is always the right thing to start out with a greeting and close the conversation properly.
  • If you are busy or involved in another 1 -3 text conversations either let the person know you are busy or let them know you are texting others and that you may be slow to respond.  Nothing is as annoying as asking a question to a normally prompt replies and then having to wait 5 mins for answer while the person denies any distraction.  It is takes 5 minutes to answer normally, change the question.  Being able to multitask or carry several conversations is similar to call waiting.  It’s annoying but if you are up front with it is easier to take.
  • If you are involved with more than one text conversation, pay attention to who you are sending your text messages to.  It is annoying and sometimes hurtful to receive a message that clearly meant for someone else although it confirms the suspicion of senders distraction even though they deny it
  • Double check your recipient is correct before hitting send - especially if  it is 2:30 in the morning and your girlfriend’s name is right above your girlfriend’s mom on your contact list and you are texting something you would never in a million years say to or in front of girlfriend’s mom.
  • Apologize profusely and sincerely for the above errors and if you get banned from the house for a while just go with it.  Older people do not readily accept accidental texting as they are usually slower and more mindful of what they are doing.  Just be a good sport because one day girlfriend’s mom will send girlfriend the wrong text by accident thereby realizing it can most certainly be done. And you will be somewhat vindicated although the content is still unacceptable.  But hey when you are in your 40’s you shouldn’t have to worry about what you say to your girlfriend right?
  • Also do not try to carry on a text conversation while in the middle of a real face to face conversation.
  • If you are actively engaged in a back and forth conversation that is going at a fairly easy pace, do not just stop replying, especially if you are asked a question.  While delays are acceptable and explainable to a point,  i.e. a phone call or ordering Starbucks at the drive-thru,  just abandoning the conversation is  the equivalent of sitting face to face and having your question met with a blank stare of incomprehension that lasts more than is humanly comfortable to stand.
  • If you are a teenager and your buddy whose phone privileges have been suspended is hanging with you answer promptly and politely when his mom texts you to see if he is there.,  You really aren’t doing anyone any favors by ignoring the text, especially yourself you little turd and that goes double if said buddy is grounded and not even supposed to be there.
  • Use the same rules of time that apply to polite phone calling.  Yes there really are cut offs.  I was taught it is rude to call after 9:00 pm and before 9:00 am on weekdays and 10:00 to 10:00 on weekends.  The only exceptions are people you are very close to and you know they are up or that if they are sleeping the ding won’t wake them, or an emergency.  And if it is an emergency, you shouldn’t even bother texting anyways.
  • Spell check and proofread.  And although less punctuation is acceptable in texting it seems, sometimes it is necessary.  Make sure your text reads how you mean it.
  • Refrain from sharing huge news by text.  Don’t text your mother you are pregnant, or  break up with someone or you are sick or anything that might need and deserve some discussion.  A phone call is always the best but if you just can’t do it, text is better than not doing anything.  Just be ready to either get on the phone or remain present and accountable for a following text message.
  • Do not have group send lists and send out every stupid joke and picture that comes to you en mass.  Did you know that some phones like the iPhone, the recipient hits the wrong button and they reply to the group.  It causes confusion and misunderstanding. While this is not on the original sender’s list of  rude things they did, if they had never sent the 10th stupid joke of the day I wouldn’t be wondering who all these people texting are.
  • Do not call someone nasty names and accuse them of false actions by text.  Well… by anything really but for real Someone you love.  And then refuse to pick up the phone.  It’s already gonna be bad enough you turned out to be a big jerky jerk jerk without adding insult to injury.   and
  • Do not text fight or if you do, be careful what you say.   Heated words spoken usually drift off, when it’s right there in type on a msg, boy it can smart.
  • If you text someone and they do not respond right away, do not blow up their phone.  Also do not automatically assume they are mad at you. Give them at least 25 mins and then send another message.  If it is someone you have just met, waiting 5 minutes and then texting every letter of the alphabet 1 letter at a time until you get a response will most likely not get you a response and makes it harder for cracked people everywhere.  Really.
  • Acceptable abbreviations for popular sayings are annoying when overused.  SMH (shaking my head,) LOL (Laughing out loud) OMG (Oh My God!) etc.  Make sure there are real words in the message.  Please.  And Ty
  • Drunk texting or texting while otherwise impaired not really a good idea as you annoy the people you are trying to communicate with when you send stupid shit like…..  <thrirh eeeihjf  rjr kodkejf.>  I mean come on WTF?
  • Cryptic dramatic messages like  <OMG I am going to go to jail for sure today>  While entertaining for a minute or two need follow up explanations as soon as possible.
  • If you know your mother likes the English language and to understand what she reads do not text her something like, < OMG SMH Mom! LOL dat not kool fo sho! > Even if you are trying to get her back for sending yet another long and drawn out text or too many messages in a row. It won’t I am fairly positive help her understand the error of her ways.    Don’t ask me how I know.
  • If you know yourself to be a person who sometimes can not say it quite right the first time especially if there is a lot of emotional involvement, take the time to say it how you want.  After you send the text, deciding it should be worded differently and then revising numerous times as each text goes is not a good idea.  Might result in a restraining order. Especially if you have only recently been friends with the person.
  • Learn what your texting weakness ‘s are so that you can be a better, more polite texter.
  • It is probably not a good idea to send pictures without clearing that it is ok to do so first.  
  • If you wouldn’t ask a new friend to have phone sex the first conversation on the phone, then don’t ask for a picture.  
  • If you break the above, then get turned down, don’t beg.
  • If you beg, don’t get butt-hurt when the conversation is suddenly over. Just Sayin…

I think I may have it covered.   Really it all boils down to the Golden Rule of Do Unto Others….. One Biggie I did forget and while I hope it goes without saying anyways, I will say it again.  DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE

All of the above were inspired the events depicted in their description.  Ridiculous, stupid, rude or whatever they actually happened.  That’s how rules come to be.   True Story.

Good manners never hurt anyone.  I promise. 

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27 responses to “Text Etiquette- Because Good Manners Never Hurt Anyone.

  1. I hate texting. Yesterday I responded to a group text, thinking I was only responding to the sender where I said something pretty unflatteriing about one of the recipients. It made for quite the awkward moment when I got back from lunch. Damn iPhone.

    Rob – The Mainland

    • Yep I totally understand. I dont have that issue but several people on a friends list had iPhones and they did the same. This guy would send out group txts up to 6 + times a day..and they always hit respond all…made for some interesting mischief but it got.old. I keep up on the texting because my kids prefer it to the phone. But when they text me from the other side of the house…it is a little too much.
      Peace :-)

      • I am guilty of texting from the other side of the house. However, I am also guilty of teaching my kids that you should not yell in the house, go find your target and speak to them normally. Texting accomplishes that.
        -Dave

      • Oh I too am an in-house text fiend. My daughter is very close to her due date and we quite often carry out our conversations by text because she doesn’t want to come find me. Sometimes it boggles my mind how far we have come from our younger years. I certainly would not have caught so much grief for the horrendous long distance bill and constant hovering around the mail box had we had the ability to text then. :-P

  2. Manners are a set of common rules that cover our actions when we cannot fully anticipate the reactions of those around us. As you begin texting relationships with people, you can break the rules in small ways to test your understanding of the recipient’s preference. Over time, a refined set of rules emerges with that recipient in mind. That means you will have different texting relationships with each recipient, just like you use different mannerisms when speaking with different people. I guess it comes down to remembering that there is a live person on the other end of the conversation, be empathic to how your text will be received.
    Cheers,
    Dave

    • That is an excellent point and I actually contemplated while I wrote that rather then a set of rules that should govern all text correspondence, this was in fact a list of my preferences – or my rules. And I was trying to convey as well what you just said so perfectly – “a refined set of rules with that recipient in mind” The rules themselves are not static, the one thing that should not change is that they begin and are based on good manners and consideration.

      The original idea of the post came after a friend and I were discussing how one could just leave a conversation without a closing. She had asked the person she was involved in a text conversation with a question, nothing terribly pointed or that would offend and suddenly the conversation just stopped and that was that. The text makes it easy to disengage, too easy so yes the real point I was getting at was that you are talking to another human being. Treat them as such. I appreciate your input. :-) Peace

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  4. I don’t use texting for anything ridiculously urgent. And my friends and I don;t expect our conversations to have any relation to real conversations – they can go on for days, with only one or two responses per day…

    And kids today don’t realize how good they have it. Darnit, GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU DARN KIDS!

    • Haha my 7 yo used to say that….it’s from Monster House? I like the never ending conversations. And leeting someone know when I am thinking of them because even if I don’t have time or the patience for a long catch up conversation, I can reach out.
      Peace :-)

  5. For years I’ve listened to dogs barking, yet still can’t really distinguish any substantial difference (in meaning) between one bark and another. Somehow I get the feeling that ‘texting’ is heading in a similar direction. Or perhaps we’re in the process of reverting back to our original, grunt-based paradigm.

    After all, why not? Almost everything that’s being said anymore could easily be packaged in a ‘grunt.’ And most of the time you don’t really need to distinguish one grunt from another…’cause no one really cares what you’re saying anyway. Nor you they.

    For example:

    *Umphg!” (Say what?)

    “Umphgg!” (Screw you!)

    “Umphgh?” (Really?)

    “Umphgff!” (Damn right!)

    “Umphxd?” (Wow, when?)

    “Umphyfy!” (Right now!)

    “Umphok?” (On my iPhone?)

    “Umpdxt!” (Yeah, a txt quickie!)

    “Umphf*y!?” (Like that?)

    “Ummmm!” (Wow. Yeah, that was quick!!!)

    “Umphgby!” (Ok, glad you enjoyed it. Gotta go. See ya later.)

    “Umphgyb…” (Yeah, ok. Hey…be sure to wash your hands!)

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  7. Well, this was really timely as I just recently got an Iphone and my kids are amazed at my ability to text message! And I don’t know anything about the rules and manners when it comes to texting so I’m so glad you wrote this for those of us who are new to the texting arena. So now I’ve got that going for me!

    I never know how to end a texting conversation politely though. I worry the person will think I’m just bored with them and want to get out of the conversation. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    Anyway, funny and fun reading as usual!

    • Thanks :-) I’m still working on the closing because with text, you can have a conversation even if you re busy – if you don’t mind the extended response time – I feel like saying goodby or I gotta go is kinda closing the door (unless you really do have to of course) so I just try to be as upfront as possible. Now keep in mind I am not adept at the short sweet text messages. That and Twitter escape me. :-) Peace

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    • Seriously.. there is a reasin for them. And I get at least one google search term every day that relayes to text etiquette.. perhaps I sho uld seriously ;-) write a miss manners guide.
      Care for some chocolate while you read?;-)

  10. I love this, Lizzie. I think your idea of having a “How To” class is one whose time has come–and your “LizzieCracked’s Rules for Responsible, Polite Texting” should be posted in every restaurant, every library, every movie theater–heck, inside every bathroom. They have hit the nail on the head.

    • Thanks :-). I have thought about a plaque or poster with just the rules and I have gotten hits on it every single day since I wrote it..I’m kinda thinking somedays if I did something with it.. I dony know but obviously there is a need because the search terms all relate to how to..politely …. text, end text conversation etc..

  11. I was at an awards night where my son would receive an award so he was seated away from me. We texted each other!! It’s crazy, isn’t it. What DID we do before all this?….

    Great post, Lizzie. I agree very strongly especially with not texting when you’re in a real f2f with someone. It’s not right at all because of the simple thing, your mind is in another direction. All of the pointers were great.

    & hey, Merry Christmas! :)

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