Bad Texter

Illustration by Simone Eligon

I’m going to tell you something that might upset you. Either because it will strip you of a delusion that helps you like yourself, or it will reveal that your friends have lied to you.


There is no such thing as a bad texter, and there never was.


Responding to a text is an active choice, just like anything else, and claiming the label of “bad texter” as though it were an innate predisposition only serves to excuse your abnegation of this essential duty. No one is born a bad texter. 

Except for me. I was. I was born a bad texter.


I feel great shame.


Here’s the IRL equivalent of a conversation with a self-proclaimed “bad texter”:

A: Hey, what’s up!
B: Nothing much, what’s up with you?

A: [Stares at B, unblinking]

A: [Inhales sharply]

A: [Runs away at full speed, absconding into the night]

A: [Posts on Instagram story]

A: [Shows up at B’s house weeks later]

A: I’m good, thanks! We should call sometime.

Here is the psychology of a bad texter: we see a text; we chuckle/contemplate/cry as is demanded by the material; we see something that is not the text; we move on to said latter thing.


There are two texters inside each of us: one responds to texts and the other does not. They are currently doing battle. Which one wins? The one you feel more guilty about disappointing, perhaps? In this way, they are like Jewish grandmothers. I’m so sorry, Baba, for not texting you back — I totally agree that Bari Weiss had a point in that article you sent. Thanks for reaching out. Yes, I’m eating. Speaking of that, the texters in your mind are so, so hungry. So which texter triumphs? Likely the one you feed. At any rate, these two texters are highly metaphorical. In the time it took to go on this quaint little symbolic journey, I could have issued thoughtful text messages to several friends I think about daily.


In the beforetimes, it was okay to be a bad texter. Friends tolerated you, and those who did not could forget about you and move on to the next person who wanted to spit into their mouth (was that what we did? I seem to have forgotten the petty beforethings with which we occupied our beforedays). But now that online relationships are our core relationships, being a bad texter makes you a bad friend. Good texting — like it or not — is now an indispensable part of the labor associated with being a good person. If you don’t like it, take it up with Mr. COVID.


Important note: this does not apply when I fail to text back. In these particular and exceptional cases, I am merely going through a lot and should be given the benefit of the doubt. Did you know that me ignoring you is simply evidence of my affinity for our connection, which is so precious that I dare not tarnish it by shoehorning it into the brutish medium of a text conversation? Yes. That is the case.





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