Do you ever send a text later wonder if the receiver interpreted as you intended? Do you ever receive a text and wonder what the sender meant?
On my walk this morning (my ankle is finally better!!!) I found my mind applying narratological concepts to txt messages and facebook.
When I received a text message my interpretation is influenced by more than just the words it contains. The narrative of the text is also determined by: who sent it, my relationship with that person, my past experience with that person, the day and time the message was sent, and finally the words the text contains interpreted within the context of my personal understanding of my and the sender’s language and my and the sender’s culture.
Let me give you an example:
Once upon a time a male friend sent me a message in the early evening that told me about his day and said he ‘should be back in Sydney around 10…’
Ok – what’s that supposed to mean?
‘It’s a booty call,’ another platonic male friend told me.
Seeing I was attracted to the guy who sent it, and seeing as the guy was having troubles with his girlfriend, and seeing as our culture reads such a message in such a way – I had to agree. It took will power, but I didn’t reply.
Questionable narratives are often embedded in the text messages I send with the intention of making a witty jokes, but which after sending I rethink, wondering whether or not the receiver has instead taken my words seriously.
For example last night another male friend sent me a txt that read, ‘I was in paddo all night tonight and totally forgot to call you…’
In the context of who this guy is (cute and I think single), my relationship with this person (platonic thus far) and past experience (flirty but does not go anywhere, and who I haven’t spoken to in over a month), the time (3am after a Saturday night out) combined with his choice of words led me to read his txt as a message send more or less to just say hey. So I replied jokingly, ‘Well that makes me feel special ; )’
But then the rethink: will my text be received as the light-hearted joke I intended? I rely on that little wink to notify receivers that I’m not serious – but do they read it the way I intend? I guess the local moral for any of my friends reading this blog is that if my texts contain a wink then, as an old friend used to say, “it’s a joke, you may use it,” and I hope that, even if my jokes are not very funny, you will laugh 😉
Wider questions also arise: be it in a txt msg, a status update, a telephone call, or even face-to-face communication what is narrative do people interpret from our texts? How can we prevent our intended messages from getting lost? Or is the ambiguity of texts and the openness for interpretation all just part of the fun of it?