Tuesday, 9 September 2014

SMS and delayed gratification

'1 message received'

Fluttering moments pass as I click the 'read' button. I wait in bated breath, under my sheets, as the Nokia takes it's own sweet time to reveal the '1 message received'. As I read the message, a part of my mind is drafting the reply. I click on 'reply' and type out the message. I re-write the message several times replacing the words, editing the punctuations to mask the shamefully overwhelming regard with unassuming nonchalance. Just to make sure the person does not over estimate my interest. I would wait more often than not, to reply at a time that is a sweet spot just in between too eager and disinterested.

This was a typical moment, a typical teenage moment in my life, 10 years ago.

This was delayed (sometimes on purpose) gratification. No, it wasn't about the boy I had a crush on. This was a reaction to pretty much any communication in the wonderful world of SMS.

The sender does not know if you received the message, the sender does not know if you read the message, the sender does not know if you are typing out a reply, the sender certainly does not know if you are editing that reply, and the sender most definitely does not know if you are waiting to send your reply. You can't send images, you need to use words to create the image. You can't send voice messages, you need to rely on punctuation. Excessive fullstops for a long pause. Several exclamation marks for excitement or disapproval.

After this episode replays back and forth, for about 15 times between the two people, it's time to say 'good night'. After sending that 'good night', I'd go back and click on the special messages - those that meant something more, the confusing messages - those that exercise my dilemma 'what could she possibly mean', the long messages - those that came in 4 parts and I had to wait till all were in my inbox to read them at one go, the one word messages - often the sweetest, the wise messages - those that were fit to be framed and hung in your living room.

And as I read through, without knowing when, I 'd fall asleep. 

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