I haven't written an opinion post in a while, but I recently got into an argument with a family member on texting, and I realized something. If you weren't one of those millions of magical young people who used an instant messenger like AIM when it was cool, you suck at texting, except in the case of:

  • Introverts
  • Busy people
  • Introverted busy people
  • Gamers (except the obnoxious man baby types)

For the rest of you (parents, friends, coworkers, giant isopods, aunts, uncles, extroverts, young people who missed instant messaging, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, goblin sharks, spam texters, jerks, a-holes, owls, and casual acquaintances with no understanding of personal space), you need help.

So here are my simple rules for responsible and courteous texting:

  1. Do not text "Hello" or "Are you there" to start a conversation without adding your reason for starting the conversation. Just ask your question, unless it is urgent and private and you don't want it sitting around on someone's screen. If your question is urgent and private, it is acceptable to ask, "Do you have time to talk?" because that clearly states what you're after. Or, you know, call.
  2. If you have a wall of text to send, you can only send it by text if you are on wall of text terms with the other person. Otherwise, call or send an email. For people who hate email because of a cluttered inbox, learn to use filters. Filtered email is the thing we've always wished we could do to actual mail. The junk (coupon-laden junk included) should disappear into a special box you don't have to look at until you need a coupon. Filters do that in your email once you set them up, and googling the instructions isn't hard. I digress. You can send a courtesy text after sending an email, such as, "Hey, I just sent you an email. It was too long to text it all." It would make it easier for the other person to read your wall of text, and show you care about the other person's time.
  3. If someone says, "Leave me alone for a while," listen. Except in the case of an emergency. And no, your emotional state doesn't count unless you are on a ledge.  In which case, call.
  4. If it is an emergency, call.  Don't text.  CALL.
  5. Do not start a conversation with "Hello" or "Are you there" without stating what you wan- Oh. Did I already do that one? Man, texts like this piss me off. You people who do it? You know who you are. Stop.
  6. Do not text without punctuation. If you refuse to use punctuation, send each sentence as its own text. Rapid text sentences are irritating, but they're better than a muddle of ideas I have to expend extra energy to sort out.
  7. Don't get upset if someone doesn't answer right away. If it's that much of a problem, call. If you can't call, feel free to spam with poops until they answer IF and only if your relationship is strong enough to handle it. If someone text an "Are you there?" and you answer immediately and then they don't reply with what they wanted for hours, feel free to spam with poops regardless of the type of relationship you have. Those jerks deserve it.

Obedience to these simple rules will not just make you better at texting; you will be a better human being. I will be less enraged. The world will be a better place. Oh, and don't text and drive. Inherent dangers aside, it makes you drive like a moron.