So there’s a person I like-like, and we have each other’s phone numbers and text sometimes, and I’m still in the getting-to-know-her phase where we hang out only in groups really. She seems flirty in person, but the thing is, she sometimes won’t respond to my texts for several hours, and a few have gotten ignored altogether. I know she always has her phone on her. I don’t text her ALL the time, but maybe…every day or two? Is this a SIGN or do I have a reason to keep trying?
OK what I want you to do, right this minute – I mean, right this minute after you read what I took the time to write to you specifically, because otherwise that would be so rude – is to go out and buy yourself a little treat. What is the thing you let yourself have whenever you feel a bit down? Mine is nail polish. (How can my insides be sad when my fingernails are so joyous? I have a lot of nail polish, so I’ll let you know when I find out!) Go buy one or two of your own little happy-making items, because you might need them in a little bit. (Foreshadowing!)
This might be one of those times when technology can help fill in the gaps left open by our capacity to misinterpret each other’s body language. You say that she “seems flirty,” but how can you be sure? (Seriously, if you know, email me.) When you like someone, it’s hard to not search for signs like some kind of lovelorn maniac. And those interactions ARE important. But some people are naturally flirtatious. Some people are naturally warm and smiley and charming ALL THE TIME. With people like that, it’s the extra gestures you have to look for in order to know whether you are special to them. In this case, that means text messages.
I don’t think – I don’t know, but I don’t think – that she feels the same way you do about her. At least not right now! Nobody who like-likes a person, who is also a) an average phone-user and b) is not presently incarcerated or otherwise made unavailable to her phone, is going to ignore a text from that person. I just don’t think that happens. It’s hard to even wait five SECONDS to respond, because you just want to be texting each other so often that your texts just merge. One ignored text could be a mistake. “A few” is a theme. That, plus the fact that when she DOES respond it can take several hours, tells me that she’s trying to, in the words of the immortal elfin love goddess Robyn, let you down easy. I’m sorry. If you want to come over, I will TOTALLY paint your nails.
How do I know whom I can and can’t G-chat? Anyone I’ve ever emailed shows up in my G-chat list, and it feels weird sometimes to email people when I can see their little green circles right there, and they can see mine, but am I allowed to G-chat quick questions to colleagues or supervisor-type people I work with?
You, G-chatting: “Hey boss, just wanted to check if im being considered for the new internal job posting.”
Your boss: “…”
You: sudden and sweaty terror
Your boss: “I’m sorry, Barney, I thought you knew that position required 5-10 more years of experience than what you’ve got.”
You: “Oh I know, hahaha, I … was jk! Sorry. Thank you. Sorry.”
[END NIGHTMARE SCENARIO]
You know the saying, “Children should not speak unless spoken to”? Or, “Women should be seen and not heard”? Think of yourself – when speaking with anyone that isn’t a friend, family member, or significant other – as a child and a woman, simultaneously. You don’t deserve rights, and you are an inferior being. Haha, just kidding. I’m sure you are (probably) not a worse human being than the people you work with/for, but when it comes to G-chatting, you should maybe pretend that you are anyway. For boundaries’ sake.
G-chatting is kind of personal. It asks of its recipients that they respond with some degree of urgency – it’s not designed to allow recipients to mull things over for a few days, or even a few hours. Though I hate the concept of “patience” as much as the rest of you, it’s important to maintain it when communicating with coworkers – even more so when communicating with supervisors. Plus, that little flashing box is annoying enough as it is when it’s coming from someone you’re friends with. If there were a way to punch it off the screen, I would tell you about it, because BELIEVE ME I have tried. So don’t risk introducing that annoyance to your colleagues, unless they G-chat you first. After that, you’re free to let all hell break loose on each other’s desktops.
No, not really. Be cautious with instant messaging until the day you die.
Katie Heaney is a writer and volunteer text message analyst living in Minneapolis. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.
Illustration by Cara Vandermey