Two days ago my friend texted me complaining that the guy she's talking to hasn't turned off his read receipts. Read receipts, for those of you not in possession of a Smartphone, is the phenomenon where you send a text and can then see that your friend/crush/enemy/dad read the text at 6:38 PM.
Wrong. Because why aren't they replying? Okay, they're probably making dinner . . . now eating dessert . . . now watching TV, maybe cleaning the dishes . . . checking Facebook . . . showering . . . WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO RESPOND?!
While read receipts are a phone's default setting, I've come to expect a person to turn that sh*t off. Sorta like I expect a potential date to "Google Image Search" me beforehand. I updated my Facebook profile just because I knew you'd be looking.
In fact, I usually inform the person texting me that their read receipt is on by saying, hey, you know I can see you read that? And not in a passive aggressive way. In a "Can you put some clothes on?" way.
The general response is, "Oh, I didn't know! Thanks for telling me!" I'm glad I warned you; I don't want my friends wandering around so vulnerable in this brave new world.
Then there's my other friend who says, "I know." He purposefully keeps his read receipts on because "people get suspicious if I haven't responded." Admittedly, he's known for his punctual emoji replies; I get annoyed if he's taking more than three minutes to respond. He regularly wakes up to 100+ notifications.
But everyone else: If your read receipts are on, you have no right to complain about the NSA. You are endorsing Big Brother culture.
I absorbed my friend's anecdote with not much attention - until I received a text from a woman I matched with through a dating app. We agreed to get coffee that weekend, so I gave her my number, and she followed up by texting me. My initial thought was, "We have six days to fill with only texting until we meet. Why did I give you my number? Ah, the anxiety! This is why I prefer singlehood."
Thankfully, I responded more civilly, "Hey, sounds good!" I was going to add, "How's your day going?" BUT WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU READ THAT AT 3:23 PM?!?!
Is this a thing? I mean, I was late to online dating, but devolving to read receipts?! You can stop right now. Why is this making a comeback?!
"This isn't a good comeback," my friend specifies. "Missy Elliott was, though."
I continue the conversation pretending I'm not melting at the sight of every "Read at" script beneath every blue bubble. You can stop reading them. You can go to Zumba class now, or go to the bathroom - wait, you'll probably still be reading them then - maybe drive on the Autobahn (no texting!), or just lose your eyesight. Stop, please, have mercy on me. And why aren't you laughing at my jokes? That "hahaha" is a lot less sincere when it comes five minutes after you read my joke.
And then I wonder, Does she judge me for not being similarly forthcoming? Is she thinking, Has he read my texts yet? (No, because my eyes are melting.) But I remind myself, the "Delivered" beneath her blue bubbles should be comforting. There is serenity in not knowing, in being able to put your phone down and fall asleep because you sent that, but maybe they're going to bed, too; you two can talk in the morning . . . .
You cannot fall asleep to the jarring "Read at 11:59 PM."
"Like, sometimes I take a while to answer someone after I read it," my friend says. "But I don't subject them to knowing I already read it. Have some decency."
Yes, you barbaric heathens, TURN OFF YOUR READ RECEIPTS.