We’re all used to scheduling emails so we can both hide our neediness at getting a prompt response and appear more professional in our hours than we actually are. Many email apps are just scheduled messages responding to each other with minimal human involvement
But you may have noticed you can now schedule a text on Android or iPhone. A text! That casual blue bubble filled with bad grammar and dumb emojis and slang that’s gradually murdering the English language.
Why would someone need to schedule a text? If someone regularly texts as part of their professional life, then they likely schedule texts for the same reason we all schedule emails. It’s the people who use this feature for social reasons that I’m interested in.
Regardless of the logic behind it, there’s something about scheduling a social text that seems a bit serial-killerish in nature, like the person has a notepad that says, “Schedule text to Suzy for 10:01 a.m., followed by “Dispose of body.” I could be wrong about that.
Scheduled You vs. Real You
Scheduled group invites to a party or something are understandable (though some phones limit this), as does scheduling a response to a friend so it doesn’t arrive late at night in case their phone’s not on silent. Beyond that, it feels odd. A regular scheduled text to a friend seems to turn your friend into a chore, and adds a level of manipulation to your communication that’s not quite healthy. That said, there are plenty of bad reasons people might do that.
Dating immediately comes to mind. Too many people have this silly notion of waiting the right amount of time to follow up after a date and/or not look too desperate in responding. It’s something they probably learned from the movie Swingers, and so they’ll go ahead and schedule the requisite “Had a good time” or “I hate your stupid face” so it arrives at a time that indicates their supposed casualness. And no, I’ve never done that. It gets in the way of the stalking.
It could certainly be useful for text arguments between friends who are too cowardly to pick up the phone. Imagine an ongoing argument with a friend the person knows well, and scheduling some response to their point at a time when you know it’s going to irritate the hell out of them, like right before bed or when their favorite show has a new episode out.
Better Reasons to Schedule Texts
In a less cynical manner (I’m clearly pushing it with the above examples), scheduling texts socially can be useful to help offset that part of us that wants to stay home in an anti-social manner and be a piece of garbage. Half of life is showing up, as they say too often, and so scheduling a suggestion to do something with a friend forces us to be that outgoing person we always resist, an idealized version of ourself that commits to everything.
At the beginning of a weekend, we sometimes have this notion of everything we’re going to do, and then end up sitting on our asses and realize it’s Sunday night already. But if you schedule a few social texts ahead of time and then avoid desperately grabbing at your phone like it’s a bomb you’re trying to defuse, now you have to do those things.
It’s a like a To-Do list written in stone. I wanted to stay home and watch all three Matrix movies while ordering pizza and wings, and now I have to go skiing. Damn you, scheduled social me! But then, after you’ve had an action-packed weekend, you think that maybe scheduled you was right.
Of course, the problem with over-relying on scheduled texts is that you often forgot they’re going out, and then friends will send you texts right before them, so your scheduled text looks weird and makes no sense in response, and then you have to admit the scheduled text. “How do I know what’s real anymore?”, they might ask. “Our friendship is all lies!”
Maybe it’s just best to send a text when you think of sending the text and sort it all out later. This notion of scheduling our communiques to perfectly optimize social interactions may not be healthy for humanity, and could lead to us inevitably creating AI robot clones that can have conversations and attend social events for us while we sit home and watch movies all day while eating pizza. Doesn’t sound half bad, actually.