By John Carter

Hi Net Neighbors! Welcome to another installment of Tech Tuesday, where we do deep dives into the issues that concern you. This week we are going to look at an issue that can often mess people up, the difference between Email and Texting.

What is Email?

We spent a long time in a previous episode discussing the finer points of Email, so we shall not rehash them all there. Suffice it to say, Email is a similar form of communication to physically writing out a letter, on paper, with a pen. Because of this deep similarity it is common, and expected, to use similar rules when writing an Email. Emails tend to be long form, with proper punctuation and grammar.

What is Texting then?

If Email is the digital equivalent of hand-writing a letter then Texting, at least among the younger generations, is more akin to a verbal conversation. Also different is how Texting is accessed. Normally, meaning without any workarounds, Texts are tied to a phone number not a set email domain. What this means is that, if you want to Text someone you are not going to use USERNAME@DOMAIN.COM but instead, 9045555555. Though if someone gives you that phone number, they probably do not want to talk to you.

Why do people write Texts so poorly?

That is a good question. A lot of parents look at their children’s Texts and wonder what the heck happened. These are kids and adults whose prose is spectacular, yet their Texts read like a third grader’s failed report. The grammar is wrong. There is no punctuation. Heck, they don’t even use whole words! If you had a hand in shaping this young mind your frustration makes complete sense. But instead of despairing, try rethinking the kind of communication the person is engaging in. Remember, Texting is writing, it’s a stand-in for verbal communication. Think of how the person talks then read the Texts from that perspective.

Now, do me a favor, look at your Texts and read them as if you were speaking. Do they sound like a conversation between two people in a coffee shop or do they sound like a speech?

This Texting = Speaking dynamic also explains something else that many people find irritating, shorthand. If you have ever seen something like 4u and found your teeth grinding, try reading it out loud. If Texting is just Speaking then it does not matter what the information looks like, it is how the communication is being processed that is important.

At the same time, while you may be pulling your hair out at their poor grammar or syntax, they may be worried about you. Some conventions that the written world takes for granted, such as the ellipses aka …, sound very different to those speakreading the Text. Instead of a pause like you probably mean it, the person speakreading it ‘hears’ something far more sarcastic or angry than was intended. Formalized writing in a Texting environment also comes across as angry. Ever hear someone get so angry they start talking slowly and enunciating every word? That is what it can sound like when you bring Email style writing into the texting field.

So I should starting Texting like younger people?

No…just, no. Nothing says I am completely out of touch like someone older than you trying to use the same slang and verbiage as you. But what you CAN do is shake your shoulders a little, break out of the writing mode and move into a more speakerly style. Leave a comma off. Instead of long paragraphs sent as one block, send shorter messages that are easier to digest. And always be aware of how what you are ‘saying’ is going to ‘sound’ to the person speakreading it. Other than that, you be you.

Oh, and this is really important, just because someone is sending you a text doesn’t mean they are expecting an immediate response.

Wait, what?

Yes. When someone you know texts you at 3am they are not expecting you to send a response right then. They know you are asleep. Heck, they may have been asleep too and suddenly was woken up by something and they needed to tell you. What they don’t want though is for you to wake up and text back. Leave that stuff for the morning when you can deal with it appropriately. Usually the only time someone wants you to respond right that second is when they say, “Txt me now! Something’s up.” Unless it is something like that, it can probably wait. Most people who Text are doing so between other things in their life. They can’t get into a sustained conversation right now and they are not expecting you to drop everything either.

If you have someone in your life who is Texting you during times when you are asleep or unable to answer, you can always turn on your phone’s Do Not Disturb function. When this is on you should not receive notifications of the Texts you are getting.

Well that makes me feel better. Now what?

At this point? Just go out and start Texting your loved ones. And if you have something you want to say a tad longer than a quick sentence or two then send it via an email.

And while you’re doing that remember, have fun, find adventure, and stay safe.

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