Intentionally Slowing Down Text Messaging

Messages routinely get forgotten and go unanswered. The missing “Mark Unread” button has no doubt caused countless accidental ghostings, avoidable arguments, and missed opportunities. And its lack has likely made life more difficult for users with conditions that affect memory or follow-through, like ADHD and depression, who may not be able to respond in the moment and have no easy way to record their intention to do so.

Matthew Bischoff, “The Case for ‘Mark as Unread’ in Messages”

I know I’ve let text messages slip through the cracks because I didn’t feel able to commit the bandwidth to a response in the moment I received the initial message. This isn’t as much of a problem with other communication apps because there are ways to flag items to respond to later.

One thing Mark as Read can’t fix: What happens when I’m ready to respond, but it’s the wrong time for the other person?

Slack has that problem figured out. I can save a message and have it delivered at a later time. It’s a solution that fits with Slack as a work tool, but the Deliver Later option could be helpful for lots of communication apps.

Imagine you could save a draft text message to be delivered to someone later. At the time you set, you could get a quick prompt showing you your message and asking “Is now the right time?”

Apple does have options with Focus modes where you can block delivery of message notifications, or batch your notifications to be delivered at a later time, but these are based on a system where you have to play defense. People aren’t given the option to be more considerate senders.

Take it a step further: Send When They Have Time as an option.

A person toggles an option that creates a window/windows when they can receive text messages that might require action or a more thoughtful response.

The person sending it is given the option to let the app coordinate with the other person’s settings to determine when this notification shows up.

It could be messy — creating a scenario where a person gets deluged with messages during their best time to respond.

But it would be nice if there were more options like it that allowed for both sender and recipient to acknowledge that while our devices can consistently process instant communication, we’re made of chemicals, meat, and feelings.