The 100,000th text message has been exchanged between two people that apparently have nothing in common. It is unknown whether Guy Johnson, 34, started the text conversation with longtime acquaintance Jane Jones, 33, or whether he replied to a group message years ago, starting a never-ending text conversation that escalated into a socially awkward nightmare as time went on.
“I honestly don’t remember who started it,” Guy says. “I think she was a friend of a friend. Now it just won’t stop.”
For 100,000 awkward and low-energy posts, Guy and Jane have kept the conversation going, persistently inquiring about each other’s lives, and making safe and somewhat humorous observations that keep the awkward flow going.
After 100,000 texts, phrases like “lol”, “oh really?” and varying emoji faces have practically lost all meaning. Cyber-emotion has become as mechanical as punctuation. Both participants have even started correcting each other, letting the other person know when they forgot to send a polite emoji face or forgot to include an “lol”, which of course adds even more awkward tension to an already tense situation.
“I don’t think I would call us Emoji Nazis,” Guy says. “But yes, if she forgets to include a winking smiley face after a sarcastic comment I will call her on that,” he says before winking and smiling at the reporter.
Neither chatter has figured out how to end the conversation permanently – or if it’s the ethical thing to do.
“I’ve thought about stopping my replies to him over the years,” Jane, 33, states. “But it seems rude to stop replying to someone who just wants to be a polite acquaintance. Not a creeper, not as invasive as an unwanted friend, but just a non-aggressive human being who is vaguely interested in whether I’m living or dead. It’s hard to say no to that.”
But friends and family are not convinced that this socially awkward experiment is healthy.
“It’s obvious Guy was friend-zoned like ten years ago,” Guy’s father John states. “I don’t know why he keeps this banal, forced commentary going. No one gives a shit about Guy’s life. I don’t even care and I begat him. I wish Jane would just cut him off already.”
Jane’s sister, Leanne, 23, seems more pessimistic. “What bothers me is that Jane refuses to let go of Guy. Jane is a chat collector. She collects chats of all these guys and then catalogs them, storing them on a cloud. She’s creating some kind of social experiment and intentionally makes things as awkward as possible just to see what weird thing the guy will say next. It’s nerd exploitation.”
Jane denies the allegations. “No, I don’t collect awkward chats. Why would anyone want to do that? I want this thing to end. Part of me wishes one of us would die, just so there will never be another ‘Hey how are you?’ again!”
But to Guy, the moral implications of not replying for the rest of eternity are nothing to take lightly.
“I don’t want to awkward-shame this girl just because she can’t think of anything else to say. I don’t want to be self-loathing and hate myself for being a bad conversationalist. I am proud of being me and don’t want to view this conversation as a failure. I very much respect her and don’t want to just ghost on her. There’s just no exit strategy to this terrible circle of awkwardness we’ve created.”
And so the awkward texts shall continue, perhaps until the end of time.
L. M. Warren is a freelance writer, humorist and part-time Disney Princess. His book series “The End of the Magical Kingdom” is classified as a Tragic Parody, combining comedy, tragedy, fantasy and psychological horror. Why not Google it sometime?