Are your friends impatient when you don't text back immediately?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: November 4, 2011

The wide adoption of cell phones has undeniably changed the way we communicate with one another forever. Your old high school friends and relatives that live halfway across the country are only a few dial tones away at any given time. But with the invention of the cell phone came other changes. One of said changes, undoubtedly aided by our increasingly busy and on-the-go lives, is our concept of time.

More specifically, our perception of another's "response time" to a text message or email has drastically changed over the past few years. Knowing that most of your friends have a smartphone and are at least proficient enough to check their email and Facebook, or send a few text messages has apparently dwindled our patience for a response to next to nothing. Many of us, including myself from time to time, are guilty of toe-tapping and checking our watch, waiting on a timely reply from the recipient of the text.

The obvious solution to our growing problems with impatience is simply to call someone if you need a quick response. Texting usually leads to things being lost in translation, slashing of important details and (at best) a minute or so latency between responses.

Personally, I have always been a fairly patient person – that is, as long as you don't consider how antsy I get prior to the launch of a new video game (ahem, Modern Warfare 3, anyone?) or phone ... or tablet. I understand that people get busy and do not compulsively check their phone every two minutes like I do. However, calling is not always an option (and something I seriously hate to do, unless absolutely necessary), and certain situations force me to be impatient. That said, I usually try to keep it to myself and wait as long as possible (usually no less than half an hour) before sending a second message.

But some of my friends and family, however, are not so ... understanding.

Maybe it's because I'm the "guru" of the bunch. If anyone needs help with anything tech-related, I'm their go-to guy. They know if I don't initially know the answer to their question or problem, I will find it and I will fix whatever they need. And I think this, paired with the fact that I am some sort of a professional tech nut (which they can neither define nor understand completely), likely makes them a little more impatient with me. They do expect me to answer immediately. Every time. And the one time I'm not sitting by my phone, ready to fire back an instant response, I get bombarded with text messages, missed calls and dreaded voicemail notifications.

The truth is, however, that this was going on long before I got into this business. It actually started right after I began text messaging, which was back in 2006, I believe. But it has gotten noticeably worse with time.

Why, you ask? Instant messaging is my best guess.

Things like delivered and read receipts in software like BBM, LiveProfile and iMessage let you know the status of the message you sent. And a notifier that lets you know a person is typing a response is largely a culprit for much of my messaging impatience. If I see a read indicator on a sent message and don't see the "typing" indicator immediately after, my mind starts racing. What are they doing? Are they going to respond? Do I need to send another message? Should I call? You know the drill ...

Generally, I would just chalk this up to being a self-control issue and something I personally need to work on. But I'm seeing it more and more in my friends and family as more of them graduate from flip and feature phones to smartphones.

This is why I would prefer to see some form of instant messaging supersede carrier text messaging. The only benefit of carrier texting is the universality of it; you can sent a text message to someone with a feature phone, a smartphone, on a different carrier or even in a different country. There is no single instant messaging service available that offers such a wide array of options – all of your friends have to be using the same service in order to scrap carrier messaging altogether, which isn't likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

But more universal adoption of instant messaging would allow you to set a status message, letting impatient texters know when you're available and when you're away, when they should call or when they should just wait it out.

What say you, ladies and gents? Has text and instant messaging and our always-connected status made you impatient when it comes to friends replying to you? Do you friends freak out when you don't reply immediately to their texts? Feel free to vent and share your stories below!