I got a strange text from my friend Rahel the other morning, just as Real Simple’s Be Nice on the Internet Week was getting underway. She wrote:
The answer is obvious, at least to members of my family. “Scruttie” is an interchangeable —and until now, secret—nickname that we use to address each other. It’s short for “Scruttbutt,” the original version my father pioneered and tried repeatedly to copyright in the 1960s.
But how did Rahel learn it?
“You sent a text to wrong person yesterday,” she wrote.
Ah, the misfire. Life was so much simpler in the old days, when email was the only thing you could address to the wrong person. It happened relatively rarely, if only because of all the distinct steps you had to take to compose and send. With email, for instance, you had to physically type out a recipient’s name. But on a cell phone, you simply scroll down, jab a thumb at a contact and hastily dash off an idea that you may not look at twice before sending. Which leads to:
“Oops,” I texted to Rahel. And then, to change the subject: “BTW, miss you!”
This leads me to today’s #BeNiceWeek etiquette tips. When texting, remember:
Keep it clean. If you misfire – and you will—you don’t want your mother (or my friend Rahel) phoning to ask in a puzzled and concerned tone, “Were you really ‘so drunk last nite that can’t remember what happened after leaving party?’ “
You’re interrupting. When you send a text to someone, it’s the equivalent of phoning out of the blue. Instead of hearing a ringer, the recipient will feel a buzz from her phone or, if online, see a little box pop up onscreen. If your text requires a response, be concise and direct: “can u meet 4 coffee at 3?”
Txts r casual. As the critic Marshall Mcluhan said, “The medium is the message.” In the case of texting, you’re communicating via a medium that conveys the impression that what you’re writing is the result of a brief, spur-of-the-moment impulse. So think twice before texting a “thank you” for a dinner party, a birthday present or a job interview.
What happened the last time u misfired a text? What rules do u follow 2 avoid mishaps? And BTW, does it drive u crazy to read misspellings & abbreviations in txts?
(image via RealSimple.com)