Stop With the Festive Texts
Every January 1, I wake up smiling in the morning — with a new year comes new hope. Then, I switch on my phone. The notifications instantly crop up one after another: “Happy new year!”, “Hope you have the best year ever!”, “Here’s to making 2023 ours”.
I’ve learned that optimism is best when tempered. Yet, here I am, being dragged out of the trenches of a competent existence with messages informing me that I will “kill it”, even “accomplish all my dreams”, and “be on top of the world”. First, I don’t wish to, knowing I’ll never do any of these; second, who are you again?
The most oblique relations in your life make a point to remind you of their existence on all kinds of festive days, be they cultural or personal. My birthday is the only time people will bother reminding me about how we met once, at a mutual friend’s party a couple of years ago. And why would you choose to deliver me season’s greetings when you’re my seventh cousin? Don’t you have six other lines of siblings to get through before you reach my personal chat? Even a forward in the extended family WhatsApp group would be less insufferable. Get your head out of your phone and live in the moment: there’s no need to forward the same faux celebratory message to everyone on your WhatsApp contact list the moment it’s 12:01am on a day your Google Calendar reminds you is a bank holiday somewhere in the world.
The invention of the smartphone has caused public grief in recent times: fake news, the erosion of boundaries between work and home life, and terrible flash photography. But what people don’t talk enough about is the vice that is texting etiquette. Telegrams used to cost so much for a reason; even carrier pigeons needed years of training before they disappeared into the horizon carrying your blotty parchment. Unless we are face-to-face, we as human beings are not supposed to have instant communication with each other in most circumstances.
There is a lot of joy to be had through being connected with a loved one living in the other side of the world. But there’s a reason we don’t love everyone we come across — why do you think you deserve the same time and energy as them in my life? Yet, squeezed in between my parents and my best friend’s “Happy Birthday” texts there, lies your message: someone I haven’t talked to since when you wished me a birthday last year.
And in case you truly want to reconnect? Choose a day when both of us will have more energy to spare for small talk that might just spark into something more genuine. I’m not going to spend the morning of a new year, or Christmas, or my birthday, or to be honest, even a regular Sunday, having a heart-to-heart with you, Semi-Random Acquaintance/Semi-
Do better. Stop texting me generic text messages on days of festivities. Call me if you truly care – but that’s no guarantee I do, so don’t hold your breath on me picking up.
*For each moot, we generate a cover image using DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'Stop With the Festive Texts' in the style of Vincent van Gogh, Abhijato's artist of choice.*