You send a text. You wait. But not on pins and needles, staring directly at the phone because that would just be weird. Instead you’ll keep occupied by picking up around the house, watching some TV, doing the dishes — anything that serves as a slight distraction. Eventually you’ll come back to check your phone. It’ll feel like hours have passed but it’s been mere minutes, and your response has yet to arrive.
That emotionally taxing time felt in between our sending of a significant text and receiving a reply is brutal. It seems the clocks gets sluggish, its hands covered in globs of molasses, struggling to tick forward. The seconds feel like minutes and the minutes feel like hours. It requires the type of patience that can only be learned from waiting to find out who’s the Mom on How I Met Your Mother or visiting the DMV. That’s why it’s wise to distract yourself if you’re anticipating a lengthy delay before hearing back. Otherwise you’re prone to a borderline nervous breakdown that will occur as you wait.
It’s been a while. I’ll check. Nothing. I’ll leave. Come back a bit later — still an empty spot where the text message envelope icon normally appears. I wish you’d just say something — anything to take the pressure off of me, as the sender.
So did you get my text? It’s been a while that you haven’t written me back, leaving me with time to consider the possible causes of this delay. Maybe you’re in the other room. Maybe you’re in the shower. Maybe you’re busy volunteering for underprivileged children. Maybe you’re nervous and putting a lot of thought into how to respond. Maybe you’re showing my text to people, laughing over why I’d think you’d actually want to interact with me. Maybe you secretly hate me.
This is strictly a modern day worry that only members of our technologically advanced generation will grasp. Twenty years ago (holy crap, 1992 was 20 years ago!) this wasn’t an issue. Perhaps their use of pagers was the most similar concept, but the further back you go, the less likely folks are to empathize with the anxiety of awaiting a response text. Way back when electricity wasn’t even a thought, they didn’t stress about this type of junk. Their means of delivery made it a lot more believable that a person never got the message. I mean, sending out a carrier pigeon doesn’t provide the reliability of a Verizon or AT&T. In that era, I could convince myself that a person wasn’t ignoring me, that the bird just never reached them. That’s fathomable. But with incredibly reliable satellites transmitting letters, numbers and emoticons to our contacts, it’s a little bit harder to believe.
So when we send messages and wait helplessly to hear back, it’s natural to stress a bit. Of course just when you’ve lost all optimism, your phone jingles. You may leap for it like a lion toward its prey, or you might play it cool and casually grab it. But when you check that message, if it’s anyone other than the person you’re hoping for, you’ll experience the epitome of disappointment. If you never end up hearing back, convince yourself that the message wasn’t delivered. That it went to the abyss of the unsent. Then one day if you run into that person, you can pop the question that you already assume we have the answer to: Did you get my text?