WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU SEND BY HOW QUICKLY YOU RESPOND TO A TEXT MESSAGE? I posted here a week ago about the fact that some linguists and many people who text attach great significance to whether a text concludes with a period. A period at the end of a text message can be rude because it suggests that the conversation is being ended unilaterally, perhaps abruptly.
This article by Julie Beck in the Atlantic (January 11) points out that great significance can be attached as well to how quickly there is a response to a text message. She also points out that the significance is inherent in texting. There is a sense “that everyone could get back to you immediately, if they wanted to.” On the other hand, people like the convenience of choosing when to respond even though variable response times can produce misinterpretations and anxiety while waiting for a reply.
Beck quotes Naomi Baron, of American University, who thinks that “‘a strong preference for communication that can be easily ignored is a particularly American attitude….Americans have far fewer manners in general in their communication than a lot of other societies,”
I still respond to text messages haphazardly but now I have the comfort that that is what Americans do.