My friend and I were sitting down to lunch one day, and somehow the topic of her texting behavior came up.
“Yeah, people think I’m really angry at them when I text.”
Considering my friend is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, this was a little surprising. Yet, I understood what she meant. She usually texts in complete sentences, ends all of her texts with a period, and rarely uses emojis. After sitting in silence thinking about it for a bit, I finally diagnosed her problem.
“It’s because you’re not a guy. If you were, you could probably get away with being so serious over text and using no smiley faces or heart emojis.”
Interestingly, when I pitched this idea in our staff meeting, a lot of the girls on our team seem to agree that women are required to live up to a strange standard on text messaging, a standard which is not only self-regulated but is also enforced by the people around us who ask why we’re “mad” or “annoyed” when we text.
So, I decided to do a little ethnographic project. My goal? Tone down my texting enthusiasm and see what happens.
1). No emojis
This was actually probably the least hard part for me. I don’t really use emojis as much as some people do, though I will use the heart ones, the blushing/smiling one, and the crying/laughing one.
2). No text emoticons
Ok, this was definitely harder. Sometimes I’m too lazy to search for the emoji I want, so it’s easier to shoot a breezy :) or a disgruntled :/
3). No exclamations such as “haha,” “lol,” or anything else conveying amusement or joy.
Yeah, this one was hard. I have a very sarcastic sense of humor, and even my best friends have a really hard time telling whether I’m being funny or just plain rude. Throwing in a “lol” lets them know I’m joking. Since I pride myself in being a (mostly) polite person, I couldn’t stand the thought that people might be misinterpreting what I’m saying.
4). Tell no one.
This of course excludes my roommate, Sneha, who is also a writer for Her Campus SCU and therefore obviously knows about this. But besides her, I did not tell my family, friends, or anyone else until after I finished the week. I wanted to see how people would react in the most objective way possible.
5). Take “field notes” during the week to document my experience.
This mostly consisted of notes on my phone that I typed up as I went through the day, but I wanted to be as official, scientific, and accurate as I could be.
This project didn’t seem too daunting yet. I had to check myself maybe three times. I cancelled dinner plans with my friend when I really needed to go back to my room and get some homework done, which I felt sort of guilty because I sounded so unapologetic over text. Mostly, I started to realize how few people I actually text (yay me).
I started getting into the swing of things, and did not have any incidents or close calls. However, I did longingly scroll through the pages of emojis that I never use on my phone.
I woke up in a panic because I thought I accidentally sent a heart eyes emoji to my mom on Tuesday night, so I scrolled through my texts and realized with relief that I did not. Then I realized that I had dreamed the whole scenario, and realized that I was now hallucinating about emoji use, so the deprivation must be heading towards critical condition.
I had a mild epiphany today when I found out that I tend to say a lot of snarky things over text and then soften the blow with an emoji or winky face so people know I’m not mean. Also, I posted a Snap to my story that really required an “lol,” but I mean really, can you blame me?
I failed again today, but I promise, it was for a good cause. An old friend of mine had a birthday, so of course I had to use emojis when I texted her to wish her a good one. Basically, I would have been a demon from hell if I had not, so I had to make a concession.
When all was said and done, this was harder than I expected. I guess the compulsion to be consistently cheerful and enthusiastic over text is engrained deep within me, and I follow its rules whether I am in the mood to do so or not. This can be good on occasion; it shows the person on the other end of the screen that you care. The flip side of this is being fake. I mean, how many memes have you seen of someone texting “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I’m crying so hard I fell off my bed” while looking extremely bored? If you ever go on the Internet: thousands. It is so deeply rooted in us that we barely question it. So today, I’ll leave you with something to think about: what do we gain by being so effusive?