A deep overanalysis of the shortest of messages with the harshest of implications.
Texting inherently strips out the emotional clues present in face-to-face or verbal communication, which, by and large, drives people to find new ways to assert sentiment into and ascertain sentiment from the medium. And as a result, things like punctuation and emoji have taken on new and crucial roles in language.
They also drive us insane as we overthink and overanalyze to try to squeeze out meaning from such minuscule and ambiguous indicators.
Here are my picks for the 11 most passive aggressive text messages you can send or receive. Everyone put on your overthinking caps!
11 | We’ll figure it out
“We’ll figure it out” is an effective way to end a debate and move on. And sure, it means you’re not happy with what the other person is proposing, but rather than say that, you’re just tabling things until later. Maybe by then the other person’s stance will change.
10 | That’s fine / Fine / I’m fine
Anything that’s passive aggressive in real life is equally passive aggressive — if not more so — in texting. And since “I’m fine” is the quintessential example of a passive aggressive phase, its connotations transcend all mediums.
9 | Yeah / Yea
“Yeah” is not the more definitive “Yes.” “Yeah” implies some degree of hesitancy. Not necessarily a ton of hesitancy, which is why it’s only ranked ninth, but certainly some.
8 | Can you give me a call?
Translation: You’re not getting the job done via text so we have to do this on the phone like cavemen. This text is particularly irritating too, since the entire reason we all text is to avoid having to make phone calls.
7 | Hello?
The exasperated-but-trying-to-play-it-kind-of-cool message of someone ghosted and/or annoyed. You know it’s passive aggressive because your knee jerk response to “Hello?” is probably “Sorry, I was [fill in lie here].”
6 | [Just a single emoji]
A single emoji is passive aggressive in a different way than much of the rest of this list. It’s not necessarily an expression of anger, annoyance, or exasperation — more of a readiness to end the conversation. It doesn’t invite a reply. (Other than a reply of a single emoji or the word “haha,” both of which also are conversation closers.) It sums up the person’s sentiment in one graphic and that’s that. Move on.
5 | [After a long delay] Anyway..
Dueling passive aggressiveness! You stopped responding to a person’s texts for some reason. You were ready to move on, you were annoyed, you prioritized something else. Regardless of the reason, you sent a loaded message by saying nothing at all — and now you’ve received an equally loaded message back.
4 | Sure
“Sure” is an even worse version of “fine,” which in and of itself is a worse version of “yeppers,” which is a worse version of “of course,” which is a worse version of “boy howdy,” which is a worse version of “yes.”
3 | [Three dots appearing for a while then just disappearing with no message sent]
Oooh do I hate when I’m in a conversation with some stakes, I see the three dots, and then suddenly they’re gone and there’s no message. Just a brutal way to imply that you’re not happy or willing to continue talking it out right now.
2 | Ok / K / OK
Pretty much the worst message you can receive. If you were ever to print out the logs of the near decade of texts between my wife and me, this exchange would occur with the highest frequency:
She always claims she’s not, although eventually I think I did start to make her mad by always asking. It’s a vicious cycle.
1 | [Any of the above ending with a period.]
Punctuation has taken on a whole new role in language thanks to texting. Look at the difference between these three texts:
Those are three completely different sentiments. The first one is probably passive aggressive, but the second one is definitively and jarringly so. Meanwhile the third one has zero passive aggressiveness and conveys a sentiment 100 percent different.
Exclamation points, the scourge of the writing world, are now among the most crucial tools to express even a modestly genuine tone. Meanwhile the period is a conversation crushing punch to the gut. So if you end a short text with a period, just know you’ve ruined someone’s day.