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culture

What Does This Text Mean?

June 14, 2016
Texting is a complicated medium; we crave the immediacy and intimacy of pixels on our little screen, but those words (or emojis) are always up for interpretation.

I swear miscommunication will get the best of you. Even though instant communication and convenience seems to be the easy and quick solution to finding the answers to a lingering question, I cannot stress enough how important it to keep complex situations discussed face-to-face. I can’t even count how many times I’ve found myself misreading or misinterpreting a text or vice-versa.

As humans, we have selective perception; we like to pick and choose what and how we perceive things.

For those out there looking for drama, it becomes way too easy to manipulate a few words on a screen. Truth is, we see what we want to see. It’s almost obscene how a few lifeless pixels on a screen can almost become animated the second our conniving little brains create a tone. Although we can read a few little words in numerous ways, we often miss the message that was originally intended.

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Illustrations by Zet Gold

Our emotions get the best of us letting our imagination run wild until eventually, we find ourselves over analyzing each little punctuation. There have been several times where I’ve been extremely needy and chose to misread short replies as a lack of interest. (Sidenote: Indirect messages like subtweeting will not help the cause, I don’t care how good it feels to “express” yourself. Trust me, it will backfire.)

Depending on our personal state, how we choose to perceive and take in things only reveals a reflection of ourselves.

On the other hand, emojis have a language of their own; even in their simplest form, they can be translated as a foreign language. They capture emotions the same way we we would read one’s facial expressions and body language. Like inside jokes, one little icon can have a million underlying messages and without the need of extra ad-libs we just “get it”. For example, just sending the cute little turd emoji can express the very feeling of “I feel like shit”, but can also be translated in literal form of  “I’m taking a shit”. You’d be surprised with how creatively our brains can exhaust simple icons.

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I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve also gotten myself stuck in debates via text. One second I find myself reading the text in a sweet tone, the next the very same words are screaming insults at me. It’s bad enough when I start hearing voices in my head, but I swear some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is having other people try to translate it for me. Soon we find ourselves taking screenshots of the conversations and passing it on within our friend circles like a baton. The only thing with this relay race, is that no one wins. With our own biased opinions and accusations, we present text screenshots like mugshots, “Look at the crime they committed!”

Convenience always comes in handy, but patience is always sure to pay off. So before you press the send button with your little finger, let’s think this over. Don’t pull the trigger, because we all know that this bullet can only swing back like a boomerang. If you just cannot bear the agony of having to wait to discuss in person, try to at least make it a call. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

 

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Zet Gold is an artist and storyteller based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her favourite animals are circus animal crackers. Follow her on Instagram to see her work!