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I Hate Mass Text Messages

24/01/2011

Text messaging is a joyous thing; in fact, I prefer it to speaking on the phone because of the ability to share the same information as you would in a phone conversation but without the fear of interruption or the pressure to express yourself that so often leads to improper expression. It’s a shorthand version of the email that, I think, can improve the quality of our interactions if used appropriately.

That being said, mass text messages infuriate me.

We’ve all received them, and a lot of us have sent them (because otherwise, why would I still be suffering through them?) “What’s going on tonight?” “Everybody should come up to the bar!” “Who’s up for [insert random activity here]?” I understand that you want to get the word out about some cool activity, or maybe you’re just really bored and in desperate need of something to do. Mass texts are insulting, though, because they imply that the recipients are merely a backup plan or are in some other way undeserving of a personal invitation for fun and frivolity. If we’re good enough friends that you actually want to spend time with me, as opposed to using me as a last alternative to staring at a wall, then I deserve the consideration of a message directed to me and me alone.

Just a note: I’m not talking about silly forwards that some people pass along out of amusement or superstition. While annoying, these are easier to ignore simply because they don’t require a response or any more action on my part than to hit “Clear” (since I, after all, am not a superstitious person).

I hit a wall with this over the weekend. An old friend of mine had some serious surgery that was very last-minute on Friday, and I’m grateful to my best friend Katie for keeping me up to date on her progress and recovery. The problem was with my friend’s brother — the ex with whom I reconnected briefly a few months ago and about whom I’ve written before. He blasted out a mass text in the middle of the night to inform…everyone, I guess…that his sister was having surgery and pray for her. Another mass text later that afternoon updated her progress.

The content of the messages didn’t bother me, since as I’ve said I have a vested interest in knowing how she’s doing. What bothered me was receiving the message as part of some large, random group that very likely included people who were unaware that this guy even had a sister, at least based on the text of the message itself. Again — if we’re good enough friends that getting this information would be important to me, then it’s worth an individual message.

In this case, if we’re not good enough friends for me to even know you have siblings, chances are I’m not going to be too thrilled about getting messages about this random person I don’t even know. What’s more, the practice of hitting “Send All” means it’s also possible that some of the recipients are people to whom this particular sender hasn’t spoken in a considerable period of time — all the more reason to be irked at receiving a message. I fall somewhere between these categories; I care, but we’re not very good friends (in fact, we haven’t actually spoken since before Halloween, and the last individual texts we exchanged were on Thanksgiving when I called him out for sending a mass text). I didn’t follow up with him, but with Katie, from whom I will continue getting my updates.

Granted, there are bigger things about which to be upset. But going along with the theme of keeping the important people close and sloughing off the excess, I’m not really inclined to keep someone close if all I am to them is just another entry in the mass text list.

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2 comments

  1. I can understand you disliking the use of a mass text where it’s referring to someone you care about, and roping you in with people who aren’t as close, but you have to admit that the ‘everyone should go to the bar’ texts are great for when you have to organise more than ten people at relatively short notice.
    Hope your friend’s doing well.


    • Thanks for the good thoughts. As far as the utility of the “organizing” text, I agree with its usage if plans have already been made and it’s just for the purpose of updating; however, I completely disagree with last minute mass invitations to events. That may be a partial function of my disdain for last minute planning in general, but even when I do make last minute plans I send individual invites to everybody I actually want to see.



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