You text your friend that you are on your way out to whatever bar you’re headed to for the night, and your phone buzzes with a notification for a message back. You get excited because getting a text back is usually a fun thing. You open it to see a thumbs up in a bubble hovering above your message.
Your friend just hit you with that Tapback.
You went through the effort of pulling your phone out of your pocket (and that is a whole thing, depending on your pocket) just to see that your friend acknowledged you. A Tapback is the equivalent of a silent thumbs up in real life. It’s awkward, and it doesn’t flow. A thumbs up in real life typically comes with a statement like “you betcha” or some affirming statement like that.
So let’s dive into why the Tapback isn’t a text back at all but rather a half text designed to create an awkward existential crisis.
Why Apple decided to add this terrible feature is pretty simple really: Other messaging platforms had something similar for quite some time. GroupMe has a feature in which you can simple “like” a message within a chat, letting the sender know you like what was said. That is, you know, OK. It’s a good indicator of letting you know each person’s favorites in a group message.
So Apple obviously had to come up with a feature that is somehow even more meaningless, yet people still use it for some unbeknownst reason. Tapback offers six difference responses, each just as standard as the last: a thumbs up, a thumbs down, a 'ha ha,' exclamation points, a question mark and a heart (because a thumbs up just isn’t enough for a picture of your friend getting iced).
The use of them varies, but hardly are they ever used appropriately, and the worst part is the aforementioned existential crisis they create. Yes, there are people who will just give you the exclamation Tapback and claim that is just as good as a text – it isn’t.
A text, you know, includes letters in some way shape or form. But the Tapback gives you the hassle of a text message notification without anything to show other than the laziness of someone not being able to come up with a thoughtful response.
And do you text back? Does the person expect a text back? Do you look eager to talk with the double text? Or is the conversation now over? There really isn’t a good answer other than just knowing who sent it to you. Your best friend? Blow his phone up? Someone you met online and have only talked to for a few hours? That’s that person’s way of telling you to blow him or her off.
The Tapback should only ever be used for when you get a picture of a cute animal and the heart option is completely needed to wrap up exactly how you feel. Until Apple finds a way to cause existential crises in another way, you’ll still be torn on whether to double text or not.
Chuck Greenlee is a junior studying communication studies at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. How do you feel about Tapbacks? Let Chuck know by tweeting him .