It’s been 365 days since most of us packed our bags and moved from our dorm-living bliss back into our childhood homes. Whether you’re someone who keeps your phone at your side at all times or someone who’s ecstatic that they’re no longer duty-bound to their 101 Facebook group chats, messages like the ones below tend to crop up at one time or another. But what do they really mean? Truth is, even I don’t know, but here’s how I interpret them with a dash of good ol’ empathy.
“How are you doing?”
My interpretation: better than “What are you doing?”
This question cares. The downside is that it can easily be answered with a “good” or “meh.” This text can be from a significant other or one-to-be, but it could also be from either one of your closest friends or weakest ties. Regardless of who it’s from, it means “I’m thinking of you.” Just don’t forget it also means “hello, goodbye.”
“How are classes?”
My interpretation: classmate-zoned.
If your friend texted this, they probably only have classes and their extensive to-do list in mind. If a non-friend classmate texted this, chances are their messages will exclusively include the word “class” for the rest of the semester. Good luck stirring some life into this one.
My interpretation: aw.
The one sweet text. Okay, I hear you, it’s short, but we can’t nitpick everything. This is why we can’t have nice things. But hey, sometimes the best things come in tiny packages. Just don’t expect a big one to show up at your door following this text — this is kind of it and it’s better than nothing.
“LET’S TALK TOMORROW I HAVE HW DUE TONIGHT”
My interpretation: this person is stressed.
While we can’t do homework for them, this person certainly needs a little cheering up. The best way to respond would be to happily reschedule and wish them the best of luck.
“I lowkey forgot what time we scheduled, we can reschedule too if that’s better!”
My interpretation: “I’m too lazy to talk right now.”
Sometimes, things get hectic, we get tired or life simply happens and time somehow gets cranked up to two-times speed. This person may or may not remember there’s a scheduled meeting, Zoom chat or FaceTime call, but just really doesn’t want to talk right at this moment. This person really, really wants you to say tomorrow is better anyways.
My interpretation: “I need to text something.”
“Hey.” That’s the only valid response. Anything beyond that is optional, so send at your leisure.
“Hello would you be so kind as to assist me with (insert help you can give here)?”
My interpretation: They want something. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I feel bad when I have to ask my friends for favors, even if it’s few and far between. You can probably relate. When my friends come to me, I’m happy to be chosen and happy to help. Feeling helpful makes me happy, so that’s a win-win. But if they only text when they need something, that can get a little infuriating. The line needs to be drawn at some point. It’s different for everyone, but it’s good to find yours sooner rather than later.
“Happy one-year quarantine anniversary.”
My interpretation: “I just need to celebrate something.”
Being balled up with work and fewer enjoyments, and a whole heck of a lot of isolation makes every celebration all that much merrier. At this point, anything and everything is a celebration. Happy ninth text decoding done.
“Happy/Merry (insert holiday)”
My interpretation: Their last text started with the same word, didn’t it?
Yes, I meant “Happy.” Enough said. If you’re lucky, down the road you’ll be receiving the same honors but in greeting-card form with their six children and five dogs on the front.
My interpretation: It’s probably going to be nothing for a very long time.
Solution? Send them a message! It’s been a year in quarantine, and if I’ve learned something it’s that texting is a two-way street. Use your best judgment on how much time, effort and care you put into each, but know that you can always be the first to reach out and make someone’s day. Just keep in mind that nothing you send is going to be perfect, so go ahead, send something cringy and crazy, and careen far, far away from these generic messages we’re all fed up with.
Contact Angelina Yin at [email protected].