Mashable’s new series Don’t @ Me takes unpopular opinions and backs them up with…reasons. We all have our ways, but we may just convince you to change yours. And if not, chill.
If we’re going by internet standards, I am likely the definition of the world’s most annoying texter.
I always send my thoughts in separate bubbles at rapid speed, and I can never send just one of the same emoji (there always has to be multiple, to truly get the emotion across).
But my worst habit of all? I take forever to respond. Which is why I always have my read receipts turned on. And I firmly believe that everyone else should too.
Please, stick with me here.
When I first switched from my HTC Evo 3D to an iPhone 4S (back in 2011!), I immediately turned on read receipts as a way to hold myself accountable. I needed something to break my horrible pattern of reading a text, mentally answering, and then closing the message window to move on to whatever it was I had to do next. I was in the 12th grade here. I had LOTS going on with my social life.
But even nine years later, the receipts still serve their same purpose. If I know that I can’t answer a text at that moment, I won’t open it until I have time to answer. And when I do open it, the quick shift from “Delivered” to “Read [insert time here]” has my lil fingers typing away on the keyboard immediately.
I’ve developed this type of rapport with my friends, who know that as long as I’ve read the text, I’ll likely answer soon because they can clearly see that I’ve read it. It’s a respect thing, people!
On social media apps like Instagram, it’s impossible to turn off read receipts and people still use it as a way to communicate with their friends. The direct message feature has become so popular that the company recently added it to the desktop version of the app.
There’s also Messenger which, as of September 2019, is the most popular mobile messenger app in the United States with 106.4 million users. Like Instagram, there is no way to get around read receipts with this app either.
So, I’d like to know why everyone is so terrified of their read receipts on iMessage. It’s really not that serious.
I brought it up to a group of coworkers and their eyes literally widened at the thought of having their read receipts on. They collectively agreed they don’t want people knowing when they read a text. As if it’s a bad thing that someone knows.
Are your friends really getting angry if you read and don’t answer their texts? If that’s the case, then it might be time to reevaluate your friends.
When someone has their read receipts turned off, there is literally zero indication of whether the text has been acknowledged. If anything, you might help to ease some anxiety for the other person who simply just wants some confirmation that their thoughts have been acknowledged.
But, as some girls in high school once said to me, “Brenda, you always act like you know everything.” So, I took the question to Twitter (as one naturally does) and…received mixed results.
Lilllian Barreto, a 25-year old product development specialist DM’d me saying, “I have no problem double texting people and if I don’t get a response and [their] read receipts are off, I decide they probably haven’t read it so I’ll text them again,” Barreto explained. “But if their read receipts are on, I know they read it and I’ll take that as a response so I won’t text them again.”
I’ll confess, I tend to double or sometimes triple text when someone’s read receipts are off. But that’s just because I’m very impatient and scatterbrained. If anything, I only send the extra messages to be funny.
But another message I received on Twitter made me realize there’s an actual dark side to read receipts.
Victoria Song, a 31-year old consumer tech reporter at Gizmodo, told me via DM that she’s not the biggest fan of read receipts. “Sometimes, people get so addicted to getting a response they text you a zillion times,” she said.
She recalled a time when she didn’t even know her receipts were on during a conversation, and things started to get a bit intense. “I only found out because the person was like “‘I know you read my messages'” ‘“Do u have a problem with me?'”
She went on to explain that for her, leaving them off is a form of protection to keep people from getting aggravated if she does or doesn’t respond. But she admits that it’s fine to leave them on for a majority of people you’re talking to. Her rule of thumb: “If you’re dealing with a weirdo. Turn them off!!!”
There is in fact, a super easy workaround that I was shocked to learn not many of my coworkers or friends know about: the ability to turn off read receipts for specific people. It’s as simple as literally going into the iMessage window for a specific contact, tapping on the information icon, and toggling off “Send Read Receipts.”
For Android, it’s just as easy. Go into your Settings, tap on Text Messages or Conversations, and toggle off “Send Read Receipts.”
Another method I’ve found useful is pulling down the notification window and reading the message on your lock screen. That method lets you take a peek at a message without sending a read receipt if you don’t want to right away.
Or, if it’s a really heated conversation that requires reading the entire message followed by lots of time to craft a response, I’ve found a long-winded, but helpful workaround. Simply go into your Settings, turn off your Read Receipts for all of iMessage, and read the message, and then turn them back on again.
But these tricks should only be used in case of an emergency, or on days you’re just feeling absolutely overwhelmed by read receipts.
Otherwise, it’s time we end the stigma around reading a text and not answering right away. Let’s accept that read receipts are simply fine print at the bottom of the text bubble that say: “Yes, I have seen your text, and if I don’t answer now, then I will answer soon.”
Or, as one Twitter user put it, perhaps it goes the other direction.
And, if that’s the case, maybe read receipts will also help you realize who your true friends are.