When you text someone, what’s your style?
Do you pack everything you want to say — the who, what, where, and when of it all, along with any other necessary details, context, questions, and opinions — into one giant paragraph and fire it off?
Or do you blow up their phone?
Do you spend several minutes sending a steady stream of one-liners or fragments?
Perhaps you text every thought you have as it pops into your head.
In the end, the resulting flurry of messages tells a complete story.
You merely take a little while to get there.
Though you may not realize it, there are two types of texters in this world: those who send one detail-packed paragraph and those who use multiple messages to get their points across. Both styles have unique pros and cons, but chatting with someone who has different texting style than you isn’t always ideal.
There are two types of texters. Those who send a short text for every thought they have as it happens. And those who wait and compose everything they want to say in one text. Which is worse?
— Laura (@laurawritesgood) September 8, 2020
The joys of sending multiple messages
Without giving it a second thought, I can confidently say I’m a multiple message sender. To the dismay of several friends of mine, I’m the type of person who shamelessly tells a story in pieces. I’ll send as many consecutive messages as I need to weave the recipient a thrilling, suspenseful, chronological tale. Does that mean I bury the lede at times? Sure. But I like to take people through situations step-by-step in hopes that they’ll experience the same emotional journey that I did in real-time.
In my mind, stories told through messages are best delivered gradually, in a more conversational manner. Unlike one intimidatingly long paragraph, standalone texts give me the option to leave dramatic pauses or emphasize certain points before proceeding. And watching a shower of off-the-cuff grey iMessage bubbles rain down on the chat makes me feel like the sender is more present than if they were to plop a fully fleshed out, pre-planned paragraph.
In defense of the paragraph
Unlike multiple message fans, paragraph senders have no time for drawn out nonsense. Whether they admire inverted pyramid story structuring — which prioritizes essential information — or they greatly dislike texting and try to limit their digital interactions as much as possible, paragraph senders are more succinct and calculating when they craft their messages.
Paragraph senders often try to tell the whole story as quickly as possible, and they thrive on packing substantial amounts of information into as few messages as possible, leaving little room for questions or speculation. When there’s a lot to say, their text boxes may be giant, but if there’s not much to share paragraph senders may settle for a single sentence or two.
A look at both texting styles in action
If a friend who favors paragraphs were to run into a mutual pal at a coffee shop, I imagine I’d receive a text that looked something like this:
This message is crisp, straight-to-the-point, efficient, and it answers all predicted follow-up questions. But is it as engaging, lively, and personable as the same story told over the course of multiple messages? You be the judge.
Multiple message senders may dish out a bit more drama and give you six annoying notifications instead of one, but they also deliver some quality entertainment in the form of suspenseful, intriguing buildups.
You can always count on paragraph texters to deliver the goods in a time-efficient manner. But large paragraphs have a tendency to feel too serious, pre-meditated, and workshopped. Multiple messages, on the other hand, come across as more spontaneous and bring an extra level of emotion and excitement to the chat.
Most times a spaced out sequence of multiple texts is harmless, but I definitely see how being on the receiving end of a suspenseful conversation where tiny tidbits of information are trickling in at a snail’s pace could be infuriating.
One of my dear friends, a proud paragraph sender, has calls me out on my texting style whenever the opportunity arises. Once he clocks that I’m winding up to slowly divulge an interesting bit of information he sometimes even interjects with a “Say what it is,” a “Don’t tease it along,” or a “Spit it out!”
Multiple message sending admittedly isn’t appropriate for every situation, but neither is drafting lengthy paragraphs. That’s why it’s important to consider which style is best for each specific situation you encounter.
There’s a time and a place for each method
Your default text style should be whichever method you’re most comfortable using. Haters can hate, but there are a few exceptions to keep in mind.
If your go-to style, like mine, is texting individual thoughts, I suggest you save the somewhat chaotic tactic for close friends or anyone whose home screen you feel comfortable flooding with notifications. Multiple messages can be fun, but they’re less professional than sending planned out paragraphs, so consider switching to paragraphs when connecting with more formal acquaintances.
A series of messages is also a great choice when your texts require a certain sense of urgency. It’s much faster to send one short message with the most important information, such as “OMG I booked you a vaccine appointment!” and follow it up with additional details than to explain something fully in a paragraph. Paragraph texters should be willing to stray outside their comfort zone if they ever need to get information out quickly, but aside from that your paragraphs, while boring, are doing no harm.
Repeatedly receiving streams of texts can feel tedious after a while, so if you know you have a pro-paragraph texter in your life try giving your chat a rest and sending a giant message of your own every now and then. And if you usually draft short novels when texting, try letting loose a little and firing off the occasional burst of short messages.
It’ll be fun…maybe!