A Modern-Day Manual to Prove You Are a Texting Titan


A Modern-Day Manual to Prove You Are a Texting Titan

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

I think we can all agree that communications technology wasn’t invented for us to actually communicate. It was to devise more ways for us to not keep in touch. And it is, as my Tinder match can confirm, a big reality game show called “Who is the Busiest of them All Anyway?” (Aside: Everybody.)

If you’re scrolling through this piece on your smartphone in between chats, you’re already at Level 1. Your seniority in this game isn’t directly proportionate to your age – quite the opposite, in fact. The younger you are, the greater your chances of being a high scorer (gamespeak for asshole).

This game is usually played between people who are kinda, sorta, maybe, definitely trying to get it on romantically. People you’ve “benched” or hung out to dry until you figure out if there is something more tempting awaiting you on the buffet of dating apps – although nothing stops you from playing this with your friends. In this era of lightning-fast broadband and bullet trains, busyness is the currency we trade in.

So what are the rules of this new kind of dating game? Where can you check your score? How do you prove that you are busier than the Prime Minister? How do you win? Well luckily for all the ’80s & ’90s kids out there, I’ve created a manual.

Needless to say, the higher the number of unread chats, the better your chances are of possessing the “Man, Am I Busy” card.

Let’s start with a crowd favourite: The Staring-into-Your-Phone-While- Someone-is-Talking-to-You Syndrome. The source of your parents’ displeasure, this one’s slowly but steadily becoming an outdated complaint. In the “Who is the Busiest” game, this is entry-level stuff. Everyone knows hunched backs and craned necks will be the next biological change in Homo sapiens. Evolution has a way of adapting patterns (just ask them opposable thumbs).

Moving on to the real stuff, players must know the basics of quality conversation. To prove you are a busy bee, it’s essential that you respond with the one-word “Lol”, “Yeah”, or “Hmm”, and use each of them correctly. Contrary to popular belief, they are not interchangeable. I mean, you cannot respond with a “Lol” when someone suggests, “Omg it’s been so long… we must meet!” This situation clearly demands something more controlled, perhaps a casual “Yeah!” (The exclamation is important.)

Players must always have a minimum of five unread chats at any given time. Anyone found guilty of having fewer unopened conversations will be moved back to the beginning of the game – where you’re basically just updating your status on how you’re feeling today on Facebook, even as your mother repeatedly asks you about your day. Needless to say, the higher the number of unread chats, the better your chances are of possessing the “Man, Am I Busy” card.

Players who have been dragging mundane conversations with other individuals over days and weeks – especially conversations about the weather or some such that could’ve ended a decade ago – win the “Pro” badge. What does this badge signify? That only the truly skilled can continue a dull chat.

The most popular are those players who do not to reply to messages, however urgent, for days, perhaps even weeks. Blessed with the ability to be indifferent, they are the ones who think of themselves in a position of power in any relationship. And only such power that tilts the imagined scales in a relationship gains access to Round 2. (Bonus points for those who chose to upload a selfie instead of replying to a text, while they can be seen online.)

Levelling up comes with its own set of demands. Those in Round 2 are the kind of people who respond to birthday messages after a year, the thoughtful souls who are saving you the trouble of wishing them twice. Round 2 players are also expected to have invites to multiple group chats. But their strong point is that they do not communicate, it’s as if they don’t exist on the group. Even questions directed specifically at them are left unanswered. Experienced players have also mastered the art of conversing in emoji, because everyone knows words are so 2015.

But the true barrier to overcome in Round 2, is what makes players worthy of Round 3. Players who have the ability to put their friends who are speaking about the “awesome time I had in Turkey” or the “hard time” they are having at work on speakerphone and scroll through their Instagram feed instead of listening. For this, you need to master the art of multitasking.

Those who make it to Round 3 deserve a round of applause. There’s a special place in hell for them, for this last round demands that you go MIA. This is no mean task, yet it’s surprisingly common and this phenomenon is called ghosting. Yes, players with a history of ghosting gain multiple points and compete for the title prize in the prestigious Round 3. The colder the act of ghosting, the higher is the likelihood of winning. Remember ghosting kar ke jitnewale ko hi Baazigar kehte hai.  

PS: Feel free to WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, text, or email the writer anytime. Just don’t expect her to reply.