Txt Me, Txt Me Not

When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, I had a friend who spent her summers in Tennessee with her dad.  She’d write me letters to stay in touch in the pre-AOL AIM era.  I’d give myself like a C+ for my pen pal skills then — it would take me forever to respond, but when I did it was looong and heartfelt.  But because it took an eternity for me to put pen to paper, I had this looming, unwritten letter hanging over my head until I’d finally drop in in the mailbox.

This totally carries through to my present-day texting skills.  I’m either on it…or I’m really, really not.  I’m especially slow-to-return-the-text if the incoming one is super long, has more than one question, or requires me to check my calendar.

And THEN.  If I don’t respond in a timely manner, but I’m with my kids and snap a cute pic and post it?  I feel like MJ in the meme below:

 Source:  Somewhere on the Internet  Source:  Somewhere on the Internet

In a world where we’re constantly connected, do we need to place expectations on ourselves to respond in a timely fashion to texts?

I checked in with media personality, lifestyle coach and licensed psychotherapist, Stacy Kaiser, for her take on why it’s easier to make a quick post on social media than it sometimes is to reply to someone’s text.

“When we post on social media it is more thought broadcasting than anything else.   [W]e can just say what is on our minds and choose whether or not to deal with other peoples’ responses. Texting is more of a give-and-take, and for some people that requires more energy because we are literally interacting with another person instead of just saying what is on our mind.”

OMGGGG, that totally makes sense.  It takes so much more energy to respond to a text than to like someone’s pic of their grilled cheese sandwich and comment “yum!”

So Are There Rules For Texting?  I Say Nope!  But this Helps:

  1. As a mother of three young kids, I’m not always able to respond.  For various reasons, there are times when any of us can respond to say, our mother, our husband, or best friend, but can’t take the time to write back the neighbor on ‘what pest control service we use’.  So I’ve made a default response for myself so that I don’t have texts lingering, and so that I can come back to it when I have more time, or energy.  My response is something like this:  ‘Hey!  Got your message.  I’ll write you back when the kids go to bed!’  
  2. Don’t feel like you need to respond with as much content as what they’ve written.  I have friends who write novels in their texts.  I sometimes do the same.  But letting go of the pressure to respond with as much content as they’ve given takes the pressure off.  Write what’s necessary, or what you feel like writing.  If it’s too much, just say ‘Let’s chat about the rest tomorrow on the phone or over lunch!’  
  3. Don’t beat yourself up.  We’re all human; we’re all imperfect.  A simple acknowledgment that it took a little longer than it should have is enough.  ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking of you and meant to respond.  Took too long, but here it is!’  

I can’t say there’s any one way to handle a lingering text or email.  We’ve all been on both sides, and if the intention is good, it’s allllll good.  Have compassion for yourself when you don’t have the energy.  Do it when you can.  With what you can.  And go ahead and like that post about the grilled cheese.  BC that’s a different kind of energy, ya’ll.