Lots and Lots of Texts

Are you someone who sends one long text vs multiple shorter ones in a row? I thought so. Have you ever noticed it seems that friends and family who are under 30 seem instead to send a barrage of short texts of one sentence or sometimes one word each? As your phone pings 4, 5 or more times in quick succession, you may be asking yourself, “Why?!”

What’s with all these text messages?

Quite simply, most subscriber packages no longer charge by the number of texts you send. Or if they do, the number is high enough to fill up all your friends’ inboxes without coming up to your limits.

However if you’re over 30 (you’re reading a blog called “Gransplain” after all), chances are you started using texting at a time when you were charged for each text you sent. And the cost added up quickly, so you were conditioned to send fewer, longer texts to avoid those extra charges.

It has taken me a long time to change my habits in light of the new reality of unlimited texting. But change is worth it for the advantages I’ll outline below. If you’re still sending long texts covering multiple topics in each (and plenty of people in my circle are), perhaps you should consider updating your texting habits.

The case for shorter texts

  • It’s easier and safer to read short texts when you are on the move. Not driving, because it’s a bad idea (and illegal in most places) to read texts while driving. But even while walking, I can manage to absorb a series of shorter texts but have to stop and stand out of the flow of other pedestrians in order to read a longer text. And my dog really doesn’t appreciate her walk being interrupted for no good reason.
  • The biggest advantage I’ve found is that shorter texts allow you to easily respond to just the relevant bit. So if someone has sent you a longer text with 2 or 3 thoughts, if you simply respond “Yes”, there is lots of room for confusion about what you’ve agreed to! With a short text within a string, for extra clarity you can select just that text and tap “reply” to send your brief “yes” response. Otherwise for clarity you have to type a longer response eg “To your question about my availability next Monday, yes, I’m free. But no, I don’t really feel like going with you to visit your Aunt Daisy.”
  • Shorter texts also minimize the issue of crossed messages. How many times have you been still in the middle of typing a long-ish response when you get an additional text from the sender which now makes your intended reply confusing, nonsense or moot? It used to happen to me all the time. Less so now that I send multiple short texts. The other person knows you’re responding so hopefully will pause on shooting you new questions that would require a different response from you.
  • The conversation is more natural, especially for younger people. We tend to really annoy them with our rambling texts and slow responses, ending up reinforcing a perceived generation gap. Why not concede on this point that they’ve got the right idea?

So what about all that pinging?

In short, don’t worry about it. It won’t bother them. If it does, they can turn notifications to silent, and you can do the same if it bothers you to receive them. Or you can just get used to it. After all, there’s not much difference to receiving one ping you know you want to find out the source of and a series of 4 or 5 pings in quick succession. You’ll soon get used to the idea it’s probably one message in 4 or 5 parts. Not more urgent, not more important.

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Gransplain

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