The transparency of modern communications is both a blessing and curse. It means you get instant satisfaction or frustration from knowing your message has been delivered but then the curse of overthinking the fact they haven’t responded to your message within a millisecond of seeing it. There are many psychologists who recommend turning off read receipts to avoid this but can you tell if someone turned their read receipts off?
Much depends on the app you are using. Most messaging apps have some kind of delivery and read receipt but some differ in how they work. I’ll cover a few of the most popular in this article. I will then discuss the reasons those psychologists suggest turning off read receipts as the reason you haven’t seen a reply yet might not be about you.
Have they turned read receipts off?
I’m going to list several of the most popular messaging platforms and show you how to tell if a message ahs been delivered, read or not.
Signal shows status messages by default although you can turn it off if you wish. A single check mark shows the message was received by the Signal server. Two check marks means it has been delivered to the recipient. When those two check marks turn blue, it means the recipient has read your message.
If the check marks don’t turn blue, they may have turned read receipts off.
iMessage makes things simple. It too enables read receipts by default but has the capacity to turn them off. If you send via IMessage to another iPhone, you will see the blue bubble in the chat window. Underneath you will see the status, Sent, Delivered, Read.
If the bubble is green, it means the recipient isn’t on iPhone which means read receipts might not work. If both bubbles are blue and the status stays at Delivered, they may have turned read receipts off.
Android Messages doesn’t use read receipts by default. Different phones may or may not have them enabled, there doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule. From Android Nougat, you can access a full report by holding down the message and selecting View message details. Different phones handle read receipts differently though so your experience may vary.
WhatsApp also uses the check mark system to show message status. Like Signal, you can also turn off read receipts if you want to. One gray check mark means your message was sent. Two gray check marks means it was delivered. Two blue check marks means the message has been read. You can press and hold the message to see what time it was read if you really need to.
If the two check marks stay gray, the recipient may have turned read receipts off.
Facebook Messenger works in much the same way as these others. Read receipts on by default but can be turned off. Instead of check marks, Facebook Messenger uses circles. A blue circle means your message is being sent. A blue circle with a check mark means it has been successfully sent. A filled blue circle with a check mark means it has been delivered. A profile pic under the message means it has been read.
If that profile picture doesn’t appear, the recipient may have turned read receipts off.
Telegram also provides read receipts by default and allows you to turn them off if you want. A single green check mark means the message has been received. Two green check marks means your message has been read.
If you don’t see that second green check mark, the recipient may have turned read receipts off.
The great read receipt debate
One of the many debates that never seems to go away is whether you should use read receipts or turn them off. Both sides of the argument haver credible reasons for their stance and it is often genuinely difficult to choose one side over the other.
The case for using read receipts
Read receipts are useful tools that reassure you that your message has been read. It verifies delivery and sets your mind at ease. It holds you accountable for replying and maintaining dialog with the other person. They also encourage us to maintain relationships with other people and dissuades us from going hermit and not interacting with others.
The main case for using read receipts is the elimination of uncertainty. You know your message has been read and digested. You know it didn’t get lost. You know the other person has read your message and therefore will not be uncertain about whether it arrived or not. For some people, this uncertainty can bring about serious anxiety which can be avoided by using read receipts.
The case for turning read receipts off
The case for turning read receipts off is a simple one. It stops you being a prisoner to your phone and to other’s needs. Having your every move followed, watched and analyzed by someone is not just creepy, it’s unpleasant. The accountability point made above also works against using read receipts. It makes you feel as though you have to reply even if it isn’t convenient. That you have to say something even if it doesn’t mean anything to stop the other person feeling anxious.
In other words, read receipts makes you put someone else’s needs above your own. In an ideal world, your needs would be equal to others but in this instance they would be subject to that other. You should be able to reply when you want, how you want rather than beholden to a little check mark.
Real life happens and you should not feel beholden to others just because you may not want to be wedded to your phone every second of the day. If the person knows you, they will know you won’t ignore them. If they know you well, they will know your attitude to your phone and to not using read receipts. They should be able to work with that.
Whichever side of the debate you’re on, that simplest of message settings has quite an impact on our lives. Which side of the argument do you sit on? Tell us your opinion below!