Life lessons often happen at unexpected moments. No drumrolls. No claps of thunder. No deep declarations after a pregnant pause. Such was the case last week when, in a casual moment of multi-tasking, I learned that an unthinking texting habit of mine was causing extreme consternation.
The revelation happened as I was sitting on the couch, laptop nestled atop a blanket, checking Facebook and work emails and texts. That was with half of my attention. The other half was involved in a nothing-important-just-chatting conversation with my 24-year-old daughter Kelly. As we talked, I answered a text from my co-worker Maureen with a “Looks good ….”
My daughter, reading over my shoulder, stopped what she was saying and blurted out “Don’t do the dot, dot, dot, Mom. That means something bad.” I gave her 3/4 of my attention. “What?”
I looked back at my computer and it pinged with a new message. “What’s wrong?” asked Maureen.
Maureen, btw, is only three years older than my daughter. Same instant-communication generation, which apparently is far more nuanced than I thought.
“What are you talking about?” I asked the in-person millennial as I texted Maureen, “What are you talking about?” Suddenly there was long-distance melding-of-minds moment between Kelly and Maureen. I was simultaneously receiving an “OMG (insert laughing emoji)” text as the person next to me was squealing “Oh my gosh! (insert hysterical laugh).”
The next morning, I had barely gotten my coat off at work before I began to quiz two reporters (and millennials) Jack Kopanski and Alison Stewart. I hadn’t even finished the “dot dot dot” sentence when both started talking over themselves about how that typing habit ALWAYS means something bad. As in, “I’m saying everything is good, but it really isn’t, as evidenced by my ….”
Other no-nos I learned that day. For the love of heaven, do not respond to anyone, especially a child, with “K” for OK. That means you are angry.
Ummmmm no. It just means that I am in a hurry and just typed “K” instead of okay, or OK.
“I think my Mom is mad at me when she does that,” said Jack.
As for the infamous dots: “I put … in almost all my texts,” I said to them both. “Did that concern you guys?”
“I always wondered what was wrong,” responded Alison.
So, there are two awesome results from this life lesson. First, I had gotten into a very bad texting habit with my dots – the equivalent of saying “um” in every sentence. And second, it’s the little things in miscommunication that can cause unintended angst.
So to everyone I’ve “dotted” at the end of a sentence, I am sorry.
I don’t mean to cause distress …
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.