Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a lot to offer anybody looking for texting tips.
I realize the population of the entire planet by now, at least everybody with a phone, knows how to text. Still, it’s a mode of communication that not everybody excels at. Which is why I relate a lot to Detective Charles Boyle.
I wish I was as cool as some of the characters on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, like Jake Peralta or Terry Jeffords. But, no, somebody has to be the Charles Boyles of the world.
That would be me. Maybe some of you reading this, you're a Charles Boyle, too.
We learn in the episode, “The Fugitive, Part Two,” that Boyle is not a skilled texter. He loves to text, and he technically knows how to do it, but he’s terrible at it – and so his colleagues leave him off all of their text chains.
Boyle is furious and hurt. Fortunately for him, and those of us who aren’t good texters, his coworkers Sergeant Amy Santiago and Gina Linetti, the precinct’s administrator, are willing to teach him how to be a better texter.
Tips on Texting from Brooklyn Nine-Nine
There aren’t a ton of texting tips in this episode, mostly probably because everybody watching the show except for a few people like me knows how to properly text, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show where they manage to stuff in a lot of plot, jokes and character development in each episode, but there are a few good pieces of advice. So here we go.
Be willing to listen to your texting buddies. You aren’t going to learn anything, whether it’s texting or how to bake a bunt cake, if you have a closed mind and aren’t willing to receive the information you are given.
Fortunately, Boyle is more than willing to be a dedicated pupil.
Admittedly, at first, he’s kind of defensive about his texting, saying, “You know, a lot of people like the way I text. Look, if you can’t accept me for who I am, then I don’t need this chain.”
But when Amy says, “OK, great,” Boyle responds, “No, no, no, I need to be included so badly. I’ll do whatever you say. I literally have zero pride.”
Don’t over-text. Texting isn’t instant messaging. It isn’t a phone call. It’s something you do sparingly. If texting is an art, it's fine brush strokes and not being Jackson Pollock, with, you know, tossing buckets of paint onto a canvas.
In fact, that’s why Boyle has been left off the office chains.
“We only excluded you because you’re kind of an over-texter,” Amy says.
“Over-texter?” Charles scoffs. “That’s not even a thing.”
“Oh, really?” says Gina. “So you don’t remember the time you sent 97 unanswered texts in a five-minute span?”
“My phone vibrated itself off the desk,” Amy says. “I think it was committing suicide.”
Know when to end a text. After presumably hours of text training that occurs off camera, Amy and Gina conduct a final exam for Boyle.
“We’re going to show you a text and then two potential responses,” Amy says. “You need to tell us which is more appropriate.”
We see a slide come up on a screen, and Gina points to it, saying: “Amy writes, ‘Leaving the virgin festival. Be there in ten minutes."
“Gina,” Amy interrupts, disapprovingly, not thrilled with this example.
Gina then offers up two examples of responses one might do for this text.
She asks if Boyle should reply with:
“I’ll be counting down the seconds. 600, 599, 598, JK, LOL, 597, 596, smiley face, smiley face, cat smiley thumbs up.”
“It’s a trick question,” Boyle says after thinking about it for a moment. “The text requires no response.”
Amy and Gina are very pleased.
But all I could think was, "Drat." Wanting to reply in some way, I would have failed that test. Still, Amy and Gina’s point is spot-on, from what I hear. When it comes to texting, less is more. According to my teenage daughters, my texts are always novel length, complete with annotated footnotes.
Apparently, I send messages as if I'm hoping to secure a movie deal from one of the texts.
Which probably explains why I'm not on more text chains.
Don’t read your texts while in the middle of a street. Gina stops in the middle of a crossing a busy city street to read one of Boyle’s texts, with unfortunate and shocking results. She ends up being okay, but, yeah, not a good idea.
Where you can watch this show (at the time of this writing): Brooklyn Nine-Nine can be found on Hulu.com. And, yes, I'm as surprised as you that this blog post is so short for me. Like my texts, my posts are often admittedly the length of a novella.
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