Contrary to popular opinion, linguists know that texting isn’t destroying the English language, even if there aren’t hard-and-fast rules. In fact, texting is a language in-and-of itself, and like any language, it allows us to express exactly who we are.
Think of it like this: the ways in which we format our words, how we respond to our friend’s texts, and the emoji we choose when texting are the parallel versions of our inflection, our non-verbal communication, and our facial expressions, all of which are highlighted when having face-to-face conversations.
I’d argue that many of us text more in a day than we actually speak to each other because one, pandemic-remote-work-life, and two, efficiency. Also, texting is fun – we can play with grammar and words and emoji in ways that are unique to our personalities.
And yet, Apple hasn’t figured out how to improve these three functions that would allow our truest selves to shine.
As someone who taught English to middle schoolers for over a decade, I can’t eloquently express how frustrating it is that we don’t have the option in iMessage to italicize or bold something as we type. In lieu of having the ability to properly format words, we have subsequently replaced italics and bolded text with *double asterisks*, ~double tildes~, and my least favorite alternative, capitalization.
Everyone knows that when you capitalize entire words you are technically yelling, and words that are in all caps look aggressive, and I don’t want to alarm anybody, nor do I want to be alarmed. Take a scroll through TikTok, and you will quickly see exactly what I’m talking about.
And look, Apple gave us Siri and touchscreen controls – I refuse to believe that implementing the ability to format text would be difficult.
Emoji search function
When was the last time you went looking for an emoji using iMessage’s search function? If you’re like me, and you find yourself too lazy to scroll through the 3,361 emoji offered, you use the search function with embarrassing frequency. 3,361 is a lot of options, and I need the perfect one.
Why is it that when I type “preach” into the search bar, nothing comes up? I’m trying to express solidarity with my friend who is lamenting on an unseasonable Michigan snow squall, and how else can I do that if not with the “🙌🏼 ” emoji? I understand that I could scroll to find it (and I know I wouldn’t have to scroll that far!), but it’s not something that I use often enough to know exactly where it is among other emoji, and I’m busy.
Try typing “hands” in the search bar, and tell me that you aren’t also confused as to why the dreaded “👍🏼” emoji precedes the “🙌🏼 ” emoji. Make it make sense.
We are texting each other with increasing frequency, yet our autonomy is hindered by Apple’s iMessage options (or lack there-of) – these three fixes would give us an additional, welcomed sense of self in our current communication landscape.
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