DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a woman of a certain age, the mother of a millennial child, and I am confused about texting etiquette.
Can one send a text at any time of day or night, as one can with emails? Must one always type out long forms for every word on the excruciatingly small keys, or are abbreviations acceptable? When referencing a book title, are ALL CAPS acceptable when underlining is not available?
I first became familiar with this form of communication when my daughter was in high school. Although I frown on the abbreviations commonly used in texts, I would use them for time’s sake or to keep me from going mad trying to touch the correct tiny key, and not the one crammed up beside it.
Even with the high school years behind us, writing “How r u?” remains temptingly convenient, but do you think it is too silly for adults to use?
GENTLE READER: Yup.
It is with reluctance that Miss Manners acknowledges that tiny keys require tiny compromises. The idea is to maintain your dignity while embarrassing neither your millennial nor your English teachers.
Capital letters are permissible in place of italics, if you promise not to use them for regular correspondence, where it just comes across as yelling. Abbreviations are allowed in limited, identifiable quantities.
Good luck keeping up with acronyms, which have crept into the regular conversation of the young. (Do they not recognize that it usually requires the same amount of vocal effort as full words?)
And although many people silence their phones at night, others keep them on “for emergencies,” so reasonable texting hours are preferred -- to avoid inciting one.