Smartphone Message Service Read Receipts — Stress Incarnate Or Peace Of Mind?

As messaging applications on smartphones continue to sidle into the territory previously occupied strictly by traditional SMS texting, users are being confronted with a sometimes uncomfortable proposition. Namely, that whoever is on the other end can see when you’ve read their message, and you can see if they’re ignoring you or not as well.

Buzzfeed‘s Matt Buchanan points out that there are already various services where you get a play-by-play of what the person on the other end is doing — Google Talk, iChat and Blackberry Messenger all show when someone is typing. So to some extent, we’re kind of used to that type of feedback.

Text messages, so far at least, are a haven for those of us who just don’t want to face the reality that the object of our affection has read and could likely be ignoring a carefully planned, totally breezy yet flirtatious text.

But that blissful ignorance could become a thing of the past, as phone users are increasingly turning to non-SMS services like iMessage, which allows iPhone users to send messages to each other via WiFi or a mobile network. There’s an option in the new version to turn on read receipts — but it means that others will be notified when you’ve read their message, and not the other way around, unless they’ve also turned on that function. Facebook messenger as well, now has a “Seen by” message attached to the bottom of missive you’ve sent.

Personally, I’d rather not have the knowledge forcefully imposed on me that someone else has or has not read my message. I prefer to invent reasons like “He probably fell into a pit of snakes and hit a hives of wasps on the way down and has no service,” than “He read it and hates me.” I also don’t want the guilt trip that comes with, “Oh, crap, I haven’t replied to that person yet…”

If phone carriers try to keep up with these services, SMS texts could go down the same path. Sure, it’s nice to know someone has received your message, but is it totally necessary to be informed that they’ve read it?

Texting Won’t Ever Be The Same [Buzzfeed]