I once sent my stepmom a lengthy text to thank her for some of the things she had done for me and only got “:)” as a response. Uh, what is that supposed to mean? To me, the smiley face meant that she was not engaged in what I was saying and wanted the conversation to end. When I brought it up to her jokingly I found out that to her, the old-school emoji was intended to be friendly response back and not a conversation ender.

Being in college, communication with my parents primarily exists over the phone. This is different from my friends, who I text to coordinate plans with or tell stories to throughout the day over group chat. Text messaging and phone conversations allow me to check in with my parents and convey essential information. Since my friends live so close, text messaging is not our main form of communication and so it is used more to talk about everyday occurrences such as what someone saw on campus or where we should go for dinner.

The difference between these relationships is that I see my friends daily but rarely see my parents. When people don’t have the frequent in-person interactions that are vital to understanding someone’s message, it can be easy for miscommunications to occur.

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