Text messages are a large part of the way we communicate with each other these days. Honestly, it's my preferred method for carrying on conversations and asking and answering questions, as I've grown to hate talking on the phone with most people. This is not to insult my friends, who I love very much, but why stop what I'm doing (pause Netflix, usually) to talk to you when we can just as easily get stuff done while talking with our fingers via our phones? Maybe I'm just old fashioned.
Anyway, this morning I saw an article on Buzzfeed about read receipts for text messages. This is news to me, and maybe I'm behind the times, but iMessage on your iPhone has an option to turn on read message receipts. This lets other people see when you've read their messages. iMessage already notifies you that your messages have been delivered to the recipients. It also, in the vein of AIM and Facebook Chat, lets you know that someone has started typing a reply. The reply indicator was a nice addition, in my opinion, because if you're doing more than one thing at once and you can tell right away that you're not getting an immediate reply, you don't have to stare at your phone waiting for it.
The option of sending read receipts changes the game entirely, though. If your intended message recipient has these notifications turned on for others to see, a whole new class of "Why haven't they answered meeeeeeee?" paranoia can set in. Instead of wondering if the other person is busy, or driving (don't text and drive, kids!), or possibly napping, or at a movie, or trying not to be rude when in the presence of other people, you'll know if they've read your message and just aren't answering right away.
This is not to say that all text messages must be returned immediately, but in certain situations it can be agonizing waiting for that reply. When texting a new love interest, for example. Or when fighting with a friend/boyfriend/family member. Or when trying to firm up plans at the last minute. Anyone who turns these notifications on and is already a little flakey on the text message front risks turning their correspondents into stressed out, shrieking bags of crazy. Or maybe that's just how I'd react.
Maybe it'd also help people who aren't good at reading and answering their messages promptly become better text messagers. Or maybe it'll help those of us stuck on someone who clearly cannot be bothered to acknowledge our existence (and we'll have proof now!) throw in the towel and find more appreciative people.