When is SMS rude?

Invitation by SMS?

The answer to a question of style in interpersonal communication.

I'm 88 and one of my three sons often only stays in contact with me via SMS (he no longer has a landline number). Just like recently: It was about an invitation that he sent by SMS. I find that rude; as impolite as when someone writes "you" in lower case in a letter. I don't like replying to his text messages anymore. Yes i'm old Does that make me petty now? B. H.-H.

Dear Mrs. H.-H.,

we take you gallantly by the arm and can thus immediately and without further ado to answer your question: No, you are not petty. You are an 88-year-old lady, and at your age you really have the right not to go along with certain newfangled things. I even think that you can then become whimsical with a grandiose matter of course.

But that doesn't apply to you at all. On the contrary: if your son communicates with you via SMS, it means that you have a cell phone and use it. So you're a very progressive 88 year old lady, one who moves with the times, and I find that adorable. And: You are not bothered by the SMS communication itself, but by the fact that your son sends out invitations in this way himself. So you care about nuances. And that speaks not only for your unmistakable sense of style - you are also right with your feelings (I'm about half your age, and years ago when I received an invitation to a baptism by SMS, I stared at the display for a long time , pondering what to think of it now, in order to come to the conclusion that this is probably the way to do it, even if it seems completely devoid of charm - just like the lower case "you", the Duden can still explain you may now).

Apart from that, it makes sense to me that older people don't particularly like SMS: The buttons are tiny. Anyone who has arthritic fingers, who can no longer see well or who trembles, will find typing a message, no matter how short, extremely tedious. Telephoning is much faster and therefore more efficient - which in turn is a very contemporary idea. And sometimes it's just good to hear someone's voice.

That is exactly what I would tell this son of yours. And I would be very surprised, or rather astonishing, if he refused you this wish.

Bettina Weber

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