The Etiquette Secrets of Proper Texting
Apr 30, 2019
Note: for more of this type of information, see my books below
The keys to mastering digital decorum and other modern manners dilemmas.
From dating in the digital world to crashing at a friend's place while you search for an apartment, to the nuances of saving for retirement, the modern world poses etiquette quandaries that Emily Post could never have dreamed of. Which is why writer, illustrator, and Town & Country contributor Sarah Solomon set out to address these conundrums and dozens of other problems of modern propriety in her new book, Guac Is Extra But So Am I: The Reluctant Adult's Handbook. The following excerpt explains the subtle art of navigating text conversations with grace and poise.
Humans are communicative by nature. We let each other know when we’re happy, sad, miss them, or are a few drinks deep past midnight and on our way over in an Uber. The issue with always putting it in writing is that you can’t gauge sarcasm, mood, and tonality from a smattering of words hastily punched onto a screen.
The best you can do is consider your audience whenever you’re texting with them, and converse in a way they’re comfortable with. Whether that’s the Queen’s English, emojis, memes, or nudes, is your burden and data plan to bear.
A few things to keep in mind:
Use full sentences with older folks
Unless they’re intent on being the “cool mom” and already know all the abbreviations, lmao.
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Turn off your notification sounds
We get it, you have friends. We don’t need to hear dinging or see a light every millisecond because of the group chat.
Never text “k” as a response
“K” is the universal letter that insinuates you’re mad or tired of the recipient’s inane stories. Be the better person and give them the extra letter of instant gratification. Add the O, it may be one of the few times you can deliver it anyway.
Prevent yourself from intentionally waiting days to text back
Yes, even if the other party is doing it to you. The person you’re talking to is either playing head games, honestly forgetful, or trying to send a message. If it’s the latter, they should hopefully be more upfront with you, but actions speak louder than words.
Turn off your text previews
You don’t know when someone else will be glancing at your phone. You don’t want them to see snippets of your more intimate conversations.
Don’t send explicit photos unless they’re asked for
You never know how many people and group chats will get access to your pics. Make sure you know the person super well before you send anything.
Always replying with emojis makes you look like an idiot
Expressing real, layered, and varied emotions through words is a valuable skill. It may be easier for you to escape the gravity of certain conversations by letting your answers be loosely interpreted with a string of cartoon martini glasses and pills, but that’s no way to go through life.
Reply in a similar manner
If they wrote two words, don’t respond with a novel. Also give them a chance to answer—a text conversation requires at least two people. Don’t double or triple text unless you know them or need to get relevant, timely info across. A ton of unprompted texting without any reciprocity will make you look batshit crazy. I should know!
Know when to end the conversation
If the paragraphs won’t stop coming or both of you are too polite to end the conversation, either just stop responding at a neutral point or say you’re going to bed or are in a meeting. Chances are the other party will be grateful you’re signing off as well.