The Benefit Of The Doubt Is Going Extinct In The Age Of Information


Let me break it down for you. If I don’t immediately respond to your text, I am most likely:

A. at work
B. in a meeting
C. spending time with friends
D. getting shot at in Call of Duty, which is not the best time to look at my phone.
E. napping
F. running
G. on the subway
H. in an area that has no service
I.  recharging my dead battery

Any time you find yourself waiting for a text from me, please refer to the list above and assume I’m doing one of these actions. However, I can assure you I’m not doing one of the following:

A. sleeping with someone who is decidedly not you
B. purposely ignoring your text

Why must you assume I’m doing one of these two things? Do you think in binary? You have such a limited imagination. Why can’t you assume I’m actually a wall-crawling superhero out fighting crime but have yet to reveal my identity to you? That would be much more original.  And flattering that you would think that.

But, no. If I don’t respond to your text in a limited time frame, you have to default to one of the two options. Because, obviously, those are the only possible reasons I don’t respond to your texts in 0.15 seconds.

My point is simply that communicative technology and social media just give us more opportunities to express our trust issues in relationships.

When we think our partner is lying about how long it takes to get to our apartment we can check on Google Maps. We learn that it takes 15 minutes to get here, but he says it takes him 25. That’s got us singing, “Oooh, wee, what up with that?”

I partly blame apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Why did they include the feature that lets you know the recipient has read your text but has yet to respond? What is that information useful for? It seems like it would be for no reason than to instigate a conflict, like that grey cat that goes “oooooh” in the Puss in Boots film.

They might as well send an automated message each time saying, “He read your message and didn’t even respond. Can you believe that?” It would be even better if it came with the sound byte in a sassy Black woman’s voice.

We blow up when they don’t respond to our text, specifically when we see them post a status on Facebook. “I know he saw my message!” We protest.  And the post had better not say it was sent from his iPhone. It’s on then!

Why did he like the status of that girl? Does that mean he likes her, too?

Why did she friend that coworker whom she said was attractive? Are they more than friends?

I miss the days when you had no idea where someone was when they left the house. There were no cellphones, or Internet-enabled mobile devices. You just had to trust that they weren’t up to no good and wait until they called you at home or at a pay phone.

Did we trust each other more back then? I wonder at it.

Things only worsened with Caller ID. We had a record of the exact times we called and could interrogate them about their whereabouts around those times.

Then we got answering machines. We wondered why they called but didn’t leave a message. If they did leave a message, we wondered if there was something in between the lines.  Pagers just warmed us up to responding immediately to messages.

Now, with all this technology, we have many more ways to communicate with one another. That just means more ways to misunderstand each other. Any time humans interact, there will be conflict and confusion. Mixed messages, half-truths, and plenty of hyperbole. It’s in our nature. The more messages, the more conflict.

It’s like we use each message as a piece of evidence in court.

We question what they meant by that last text. We forward it to friends to get their opinions.

We wonder why they haven’t responded after a certain time. Surely, they saw the message and are doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

We use every tidbit of information to create a mini-soap opera in our minds. We are already well into the production of season two. How do we have time to keep this up? Don’t we have jobs and lives? Are we that ennui?

I say all this to ask, “Would you just trust me?” Pretty please (though the physical appearance of the please makes no difference). I know trust has to be earned, but how do I get it? You’ve got absolutely no reason to doubt me.

I find your lack of faith disturbing. No offense, but it illustrates your own insecurities more than it says anything about my character. But let’s work through them together. Let me show you I’m not like the guys who’ve done you wrong.

Trust me, I dare you, for you might just be surprised at how loyal I can be.  And you’ll save us both a lot of grief. TC Mark

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