An Open Letter to Passive-Aggressive Texting


That single, solitary, uncapitalized word appearing on your phone is even more terrifying than "We need to talk" or "The test came back positive." It's not a greeting, but a statement -- two letters and a piece of punctuation rife with emotion and subtext. To the texter, it's a meticulously formulated power-move; a way to shake you to your core effortlessly. To the textee, it's a vise-grip on your throat. By the end of the year, a projected 4.55 billion people worldwide will have their hands on a mobile phone with the capabilities of sending texts to both loved and unloved ones. This is a problem, and it has legs. 

Smartphone owners under the age of 25 send 2,022 texts per month. That's 67 texts a day. That's two texts an hour, for 24 hours. Passive-aggressive texting is an expected phenomenon that has come out of privilege. It's become so ingrained in our means of communication, that we -- ourselves -- have become guilty parties of the heinous act.

So. Can it be fixed?

Let's start with basic etiquette. Purposely refraining from the capitalization of a word leads to the type of asphyxiating anxiety that ruins a person’s day. A "hi." in place of a "Hi!" denotes laziness and punctuality all at once -- the idea that the person on the receiving end of the phone has time to pay attention to grammar, but clearly wants to make the receiver feel like a worthless piece of sh*t.

There's a clear interweaving of devious behavior behind the crafting of a greeting that spells: "I don't have time for you."

The first emoji was technically introduced in 1999, officially cementing a new way to communicate with a vindictive tone wrapped in a spiteful irreverence. With literally hundreds of emojis on the iPhone, users have a completely new way to avoid topics of importance and flake on tentative plans.

For instance, the "OK hand" (see above) can be implemented to avoid important issues like love and sex. It shuts down the conversation and puts the initial texter at an immediate disadvantage. How do you respond to the physical embodiment of "I don't care" when you put your heart on the line?

For those who flake worse than a croissant, there's the practice of using emojis to exemplify your unreliable behavior. The "poop" emoji is a fan favorite and, like the "OK hand," totally shuts down a conversation, relaying that you gave the least attention possible while still having some semblance of a response.

Sending the facade that you at least acknowledged the textee's message has become a get-out-of-jail-free card in some cases and leaves the texter at a literal loss for words.


There's nothing groundbreaking about recognizing mankind’s refusal to participate in emotionally ravaging conversations. And as a participator in such acts -- yes, I’m guilty -- I will say that we can, at least, give it a shot. Start from the bottom and work your way up. It can be as simple as a change in punctuation; why not substitute your period for an exclamation point? A "hi!" is so much more appealing than a "hi." and far less mentally exhausting. Why are we actively putting ourselves through this misery? Do we thrive on the drama? We have to cut this out! We are killing ourselves. 

Allow emojis to be seamlessly woven into detailed text messages that relay important information and feelings, rather than hollow blue bubbles of displeasure. Because you know what's important in this day and age? Not being filled to the brim with literal horse sh*t. See that above? Appropriate capitalization, flagrant punctuation, and friendly emojis. That’s all you need to not be a dick.


Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Jeremy Glass is a Sex & Dating writer and is fine, he just doesn't feel like going out tonight -- that's all.