Read 5:32 p.m.: The Frustration of Read Receipts


Read receipts are an infuriating part of our world of smartphones.

Anna Goellner, Literary Magazine Editor

You have something really important to say. Maybe you are scheduling a dinner or asking a friend if they like your potential prom dress. You sent your crush a Snapchat ten minutes ago, and you looked pretty great in that picture. Maybe you are in an argument via texting, and your comeback was just too good. It’s been way too long, and you are starting to worry. You decide to take a quick look at what you just sent, just to see, and BOOM. There it is: the dreaded read receipt. Read. Seen. The little red arrow that isn’t solid anymore. Rage begins to boil, and you are seriously considering bashing your phone against the wall. Who invented read receipts, anyway?

iPhones introduced read receipts in their messaging system as way to ensure that messages were seen and understood. It was originally just intended for comfort and efficiency, showing that your message was noticed and that the recipient was not left in the dark. Many parents and older generations think read receipts do not mean anything beyond “got the message!”

Today, read receipts bring along a wave of passive-aggression. It has grown beyond a simple conversation tool to something that can wreck relationships. On almost every platform, little notifications that your message was opened are being used as a sadistic way to give the silent treatment. Teens are using read receipts to show their annoyance and pettiness. There is an option to turn off these receipts, and every teenager knows it. Leaving people on read, seen or opened is usually done on purpose.

But what is the point of doing it on purpose?

It is the sweet satisfaction of having control over a situation and giving the silent treatment. It is also a way to prove that you are not interested (“leave me alone!”). Often, people are trying to avoid confrontations.

Let’s face it, though: being left on read sucks. There is no way to look at it positively. It can cause some wicked arguments, and friendships can be ripped apart viciously because of it. Our generation can be pretty nasty when we choose to be, and these read receipts are just one stepping stone into the wild world of sarcasm and pettiness. So many social media sites use read receipts. Just when we thought social media could not get any worse for our mental health and social status… you get the sweet taste of rejection when you open Snapchat and see that the really cute selfie you sent to your crush was opened 35 minutes ago. Instagram has the “seen” option in direct messaging, and you can even see when a person was last active. All of the rejection boils over into unnecessary arguments.

It is a fairly universal thing–we do not like being left on read. Read receipts were originally intended to be effective in conversation, but they have become quite the contrary: petty and inefficient. My advice: turn off your read receipts, unless you are looking to make some people pretty mad.
Read 11:52 pm.

Are read receipts as bad as they seem to be?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...