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Want Lower Stress Text Messaging? Turn Off Read Receipts

Woman checking her text messages on her iPhone
ImYanis/Shutterstock

Turned on by default in many modern messaging apps, “read receipts”—a confirmation delivered to the sender that you have read their message—are an unnecessary source of stress for everyone involved. Turn them off.

The premise of the read receipt is simple: when you open a text message in iMessage, WhatsApp, or other text-based communication platforms, the sender is notified you did so (and presumably read it). While some people are very passionate about the importance of read receipts, arguing that they lead to transparency and force us to acknowledge other people in a timely fashion, we couldn’t disagree more. We’re not fans, and it turns out not many other people are either.

The beauty of text messaging is that it’s an asynchronous activity that, unlike face-to-face chatting or a phone call, doesn’t require you immediately reply. Text messages grant you the time to think the communication over because the other party doesn’t know that you’re even there. You could be sleeping. You could be busy at work. You could be doing anything but reading their text message. The read receipt snatches the beauty of asynchronicity away and injects extra stress into the interaction by shouting out, every time you read a message, that you have, in fact, read that message.  Not only is stressful for you, but it’s stressful for the recipient by telling them that you saw their message but, based on your silence, you’re not responding for whatever reason.

You can return text messaging back to its simple roots by turning off the read receipt. Use iMessage? It’s as simple as opening up the settings on your iOS device and, under Settings > Messages, toggling off “Send Read Receipts.” You can do the same thing in the settings of WhatsApp and other messaging apps (the setting may be called “read receipts,” “read reports,” or “seen messages” depending on the app).

Once you do that, you can enjoy a less stressful text messaging experience and respond on your own time.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »

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