We’ve all experienced it before. We send a message to someone and rather than a response all we’re left with is a simple “Read at…,” which tells us everything we need to know.

This elegant act of ignoring one’s message is a message in itself. With read receipts, you don’t have to waste your time with simple positive acknowledgements such as “k,” “ya,” and “alright” as the other person knows you have read their message without any objection to the subject. This advancement is especially helpful when talking to your parents — they text to remind you of something minor and you know they expect a response, but having your read receipts turned on shows you’re busy and that you’re not dead. That’s where the read receipt is your saving grace. No one needs to follow up after they know you’ve read their text and are going to pick up milk on your way home, and that you’re probably still alive after that weekend bender.

The malevolent but valid aspect of the read receipt is how clear of a message it sends to someone you do not want to talk to. Nothing sends someone away faster as unanswered text with a “read at…” You see the explicit coldness it brings in heartbreak memes, and each time your friend gets ghosted. No other send off is easier and more clear than actively ignoring a person. It makes the “good bye” or “go away” so much easier to convey to the unwanted person, as read receipts scream both of those at the same time.

Without read receipts, some people just won’t get it and will still incessantly message you not understanding there’s no chance or you do not want to talk to them. Now, this puts you in an awkward situation because now you’re forced to appear as the villain as you have to say you’re not interested or do not want to talk to them. Frankly there’s no easy way to say. Without the read receipts or delivering the blunt “go away,” you’ll be forced into conversing with this person, which is never a good option. Actively ignoring someone and that person not getting that, does not mean you’re a bad person it just means they don’t the adage of “no response is a response in itself.”

From Snapchat to iMessage, read receipts are showing up in more and more messaging apps and direct messaging platforms, and they’re making it easier for us to respond without the actual hassle of typing out the menial words required. While it can be misconstrued as mean, no one is above the pettiness of ignoring someone’s message.

-Nick Neitling


Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I like to hold on to the hope that the guy who hasn’t texted me back in a week is just really really busy and hasn’t checked his messages yet. The read receipt, also known as the ultimate fuck you, kills all potential for hope.

Nothing is more demoralizing than a read receipt. It not only tells you that they opened your message, it tells you exactly how long they’ve been ignoring you for, right down to the minute. Read receipts cause nothing but pain on the side of the receiver. I like to believe in the goodness of people, and I think that the read receipt has made it far too easy to unleash cruelty on unsuspecting texters. Let them have hope, even if this hope will inevitably be crushed by the silence of a message never answered. That blow is still not as hurtful as the blow of an impersonal, computer-generated timestamp.

But the read receipt is also deceptively inconvenient to the user. If you want to spare someone the sting of the “Read at…” text, you’re left with no option but to not open their message at all. Those little red bubbles add up, and soon you’ve got 342 unread text messages — all of which you’ve actually seen but haven’t been able to open. There is no faster way to clog up your phone than to turn on your read receipts and realize you don’t have the guts to viciously impose them upon your friends.

For the sake of convenience, for the sake of lasting hope, and for the goodness of humanity, let us not fall victim to the read receipt.

-Emma Jones

Image courtesy of Alex Patterson
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