As teenagers, we are constantly sending and receiving texts. But not everyone is always up for texting. Sometimes, texts get so overwhelming that it feels better to simply not respond. But when is it okay to ignore a message, and when is it rude to do so?
Most days, when I get back home from school, I am exhausted from the long day and just want time alone to rest. After hours of being pestered by everyone around me, it feels best to simply be left alone. Then I get a text from my friend, with some minor emergency that is important to them but not too important to me. I choose to respond to the text later. But what message is that sending? From some points of view, it could be saying that I don’t care what my friend has to say, when in actuality, I simply don’t want to respond at the exact moment.
Now, let’s look at that scenario from a different perspective. It’s just after school, and I just had the awkwardest and most embarrassing encounter, and simply want to tell my friend about it. I text them, but don’t get a reply until hours later. By then, the event has already worn off, and there is no importance to the story. It doesn’t feel too rude when it happens once, but how does it feel when it happens all the time? What if my friends aren’t texting me back because they don’t like me? Do they find me annoying?
“I do ignore texts sometimes but I almost always reply at some point,” says sophomore Maya Smelser. Most of the time, when one ignores their texts, they will respond to them eventually, just not at that exact moment.
When it comes to texting, there are many double standards. Personally, I tend to expect people to respond to my text instantly, and if not instantly than within an hour. But sometimes, I won’t text people back for days. Ignoring messages is frowned upon, but sometimes you just need a break from the phone. Most times, when you ignore someone’s text message, you don’t do it to be rude. It doesn’t mean you don’t like the person, but you can’t be expected to always reply to people immediately.
But when you send a text, you are always expecting an instant reply, and it gets aggravating to constantly wait for a response. In addition, simply leaving someone on “read”, or ending the conversation, could be a sign that you never want to talk to someone again. But what is the point of never ending texting, especially when the conversation gets pointless?
“I love ignoring people. It makes me feel powerful. But, I hate being ignored. I feel like people hate me,” says sophomore Josie Barsky. This is a good explanation of how texting feels. When you ignore someone, you are getting the ego boost of having someone waiting on you. As you could expect, being ignored feels the exact opposite, and everyone has experienced both sides many times.
This situation goes past texting as well. With popular apps like Snapchat, you can see when people are on their phone and when they are ignoring you. If someone was to simply go into the app, it would look like they are responding to other people and not you.
In addition, sometimes when we get bored of people, we ghost them. This means stopping talking to them entirely, by not responding to any of their messages until you don’t talk anymore. Is ghosting mean? Ghosting someone, and cutting them out of your life, can feel really good when you are the one initiating it. Getting ghosted, however, is not the best feeling. This connects back to many of the double standards that we face with this topic.
In an essay by Erica Dhawan, she says that we should “let go of the outdated, demanding requirement to participate in ceaseless back-and-forth conversations”.
Frankly, I agree. It seems silly to be expected to instantly reply and never end a conversation.
So how do we fix this little issue? I think that the best way to fix these expectations is to simply change them yourself. Stop expecting people to text back instantly, but also don’t ignore your friends entirely. Once you make this change, I hope that you can get to a point where you are able to have less stress about texts. When you let go of your expectations, you won’t have all of the stress tagging along with texts. For me, I don’t stress about responses back, and I understand when people are unable to talk instantly. While I still carry this double standard, I have a lot less worries about texts.