The Etiquette of iMessage Reactions

The Etiquette of iMessage Reactions

What Does Any of this Mean Anyway?

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Texting! It is so complex, and it seems to be getting more and more complicated every single day. Did you know that our ancestors communicated by texting through something called a ?telegraph?? Essentially, you went to a special place and told the people who worked there what you wanted to say, and to whom. They used to hit a little button and BEEP BEEP BLORP like magic someone far away would receive your message. This method of texting limited our ability to text, of course, but also very rarely resulted in unwanted communication. ?You up?? texts were extremely rare in those days. Best of all, you never had to talk to anyone on the phone!

Then, the world started to change. People texted on their computers, using unique interfaces like ?America Online Instant Messenger?. You could create cool screen names and tell people you were away, while you secretly chatted with only people you liked. You could also set statuses, which had to be either song lyrics or the initials of your 7th grade significant other. This was mostly good, but you could only use this from a desktop computer, often requiring dial-up service (more BEEPs and BLORPs), which meant until your parents just paid for high-speed internet already you had a slow, semi-meaningless existence.

Then, slowly but surely, cell phones started to become popular. This meant you could text wherever you were! At first it cost approximately $1,000 per text, but soon it became as common as calling. Once people realized how awful it was to talk to someone on the phone if you didn?t absolutely have to, texting really took over. Sending pictures, sending videos, group texting, messaging apps, and direct messaging soon followed. Most of these were extremely bad, but sometimes they were fine or just mostly bad.

Image for postFor a brief period in 2002, people used Microsoft Excel to text

And then, in late 2016, Apple launched iMessage reactions. This feature allowed you to respond to a message without writing anything new. While only available to those operating within iMessage, these are the only people who matter anyway, so it?s ok! Simply press on a specific message and you can ?heart?, ?thumbs up?, ?thumbs down?, ?haha?, ?two exclamation point? or ?question mark? messages you receive.

But what do these symbols mean? How are we supposed to use them? Why am I writing this 18 months after this feature debuted? Read ahead to find the answers to the first two questions.


When to Use: When you love something. Like, you really love it.

When Not to Use: When something is good, but you don?t, ya know, love it. Also, in virtually any professional setting.

Wow, this is something you really love. Someone said something like ?I did it, I passed the bar exam!? or ?I unexpectedly passed my drug test!? If your significant other sends you a pic of them, it?s also a good idea to use the heart. You could also consider writing something like ?LOVE that? or ?WOW, LOVE IT!!!!!?, or ?LOOOVVVEEE!!!? to go with your heart. It?s also acceptable to use when receiving a picture of a pet or an adorable animal. LOVE that.

Image for postHeart this REAL QUICK

Thumbs Up

When to Use: When providing your approval. That?s a way!

When Not to Use: When you?re trying to show genuine human emotion.

The thumbs up is likely the simplest of the iMessage reactions. ?Looks like I?ll be there on time.? Thumbs up. ?Picked up dinner, on the way home.? Thumbs up. ?The weather is nice.? Thumbs up.

But the thumbs up is bland and empty, only an affirmative. Don?t drop in a thumbs up for anything that requires or stirs real emotion. Or do use thumbs up for these things, and troll to your heart?s (or thumb?s) content.

?The baby was born today!? Thumbs up. Just don?t expect to maintain many healthy relationships.

Thumbs Down

When to Use: To disapprove of something, typically in a humorous scenario. USE WITH CAUTION.

When Not to Use: When attempting to be serious or, again, when any emotion is necessary.

It?s difficult to execute a thumbs down. There are perils all around it. Let?s say someone tells you that their pet fish jumped out of their bowl and died. You might give this scenario a thumbs down, but are you giving them a thumbs down? Are you disapproving of their effort to tell you about their poor, dead fish?

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The best time to use a thumbs down is when someone tells a dad joke. You?re responding, and you don?t hate them, but they deserve to be lightly text-heckled. Think of the thumbs down like an audible groan of disappointment. Use sparingly. I cannot stress this enough.

Ha Ha

When to Use: Whenever! Haha!

When Not to Use: Never! Laugh to your heart?s content!

PHEW! We made it past the thumbs. Thumbs up and down are difficult, nothing like the Haha. The Haha is a classic, the cousin of the oldest classic, the ?lol?. Historians actually believe the first ?lol? had nothing to do with laughing out loud, but was just?like?something to say in between texts. Eventually people started to feel guilty about saying ?lol? when they weren?t laughing out loud.

It felt like they were overdoing it a bit. As a result, development began on a substitute. After a brief trial with ?hehe? which everyone agreed was incredibly creepy, they landed on ?haha?.

This one you know! This one you can use! Almost everything is worth a ?haha?. Don?t feel like typing out a full ?haha?? Just react with one! Feel like doing both? Do both! Hahahahahahahaaha!

Double Exclamation Point

When to Use: When you are shocked, or surprised, or you don?t know what to think!!!

When Not to Use: I don?t know!!

Texting can get emotional and confusing. People will just tell you anything over text. Many people have actually no idea what they should and should not say over such a medium. That?s why we have the double exclamation point.

This is like saying, ?I DON?T KNOW WHAT I FEEL, BUT I SURE DO FEEL SOMETHING!? or ?THAT IS CRAZY!? or ?AHHHHHHH!!!!!!? but not ?AHHHHHHH!!!!!!? in a good way. Like ?AHHHHHHH!!!!!!? in a way where all you can think is ?AHHHHHHH!!!!!!? and you don?t really know what to think.

If you get one of these, reconsider your text etiquette as a whole.

Question Mark

When to Use: When you?re just not sure.

When Not to Use: When trying to follow societal norms of any sort

Finally, last and least, the question mark. You could just say ?what do you mean? or ?why?? or ?what?s the deal with that??

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Instead, you?re choosing to passive aggressively question someone. They don?t know what you?re asking, and you don?t know why you?re asking. It?s a strange choice. If someone hits me with one of these, you better believe I hit them right back. Don?t step to me! You stepping to me?


Also, never, ever, ever use this one with your significant other. It will very likely end up in some kind of argument about how you don?t communicate very well, and you may even have to answer the phone and talk it out, and I didn?t write this guide for you to have to turn around and talk on the phone.


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