Lara is terrible at texting.
Her response time is fine — better than mine, anyway — but for someone who is one of the most gregarious, kind, funny and physically demonstrative human beings that I know, she texts like angry mom.
A recent, paraphrased sampling between us:
Me: Omg hi!!!
Me: Do you know where dinner is tonight?
Me: Because I know that she told us but I can’t remember the address or the time.
Me: Oh crap we should bring something huh. Wine?
Me: Do you think you’ll go right after work?
Lara: Yes. [*texts address*]
End of convo.
This idea of split personality texting disorder (for the sake of brevity let’s call it SPTD) was originally brought up by my friend Heather, positioned as a common thread between a few different guys she’s dated. There’s one who sounds like the male equivalent of Lara: bold in person, icy on text. Then there’s another who’s just the opposite — boy can swap playful banter via balloon bubbles for hours; in person he speaks the vocal equivalent of “K.”
I once dated a guy for a very short period of time who texted, quite honestly, like he was insane. If I hadn’t met him in person first and we’d been introduced in a digital space, I probably would have blocked him immediately for emoji abuse, excessive punctuation, dramatic capitalization and superfluous LOLing.
Speaking of LOLs — never judge a texter by his or her laugh.
My roommate, Lev, has my exact sense of humor and gets all of my jokes. I know this for a fact because I’ve lived with him for the past four years; if he doesn’t crack up immediately at something I say it’s because he didn’t hear me, whereas if he doesn’t laugh at my texts, it’s because I don’t think he knows how. 7 out of 10 gifs I send him are met with the stoic “ha.” Every once in a while I get a stupid, unsatisfying “lol.”
Then there are those, like me, who operate in either one of two texting realms. The first is absolute silence, resulting in frequent messages of “Hello? Amelia? Are you dead?” The second is full blown rapid-fire insanity (I hit the return button with shameless abandon. A new line for every punchline — that’s my unofficial texting motto). Meanwhile in person, I’m fairly even-keeled. Who I am over text hopefully does not define me.
I think everyone has a little bit of SPTD. Consider your own awkwardness during courtship; how simple answers become Rubik’s Cube puzzles of flirtation that result in your shaking a Magic 8 ball for the best response. (“Try again later? Shit. But my read receipts are on.”) You’ve probably wondered at least once why you’re so funny in person but your responses resemble a Gregorian Chant on dating apps or regular texting.
The best we can do is show understanding of our fellow SPTD comrades. Do not call them angry moms, as I recently did with Lara. Maybe they have broken thumbs and “k” was all they could muster. Give them the benefit of the autocorrect doubt when they send an unnecessarily “HAHAHA.” Offer them compassion. Or a Snickers. You’re not you either when you’re texting.