How you text your best friends is understandably different from how you interact with your parents in the family group chat. There are some emojis and memes your parents simply wouldn’t understand, and forget about voice memos — those are way too Gen Z for them. But there is one thing older generations absolutely don’t get about texting that reigns above the rest: the somewhat daunting underlying tone of the texting response “Ok.”
It’s the universal boomer reply to basically anything, from telling them we made it to the airport or asking how they’re doing, but do our folks realize the spiral the use of an uppercase O and a period at the end of the word can initiate? Do they realize using “Ok.” as their response is anything but?
In a recent survey of more than 150 Bustle readers, nearly 29% firmly believe it “unintentionally sounds mean.” After all, if one of my girlies sent me an “Ok.” text I’d be sent down an overthinking rabbit hole immediately, unpacking it in therapy, and maybe even posting a shady quote about “fake friends” on my Instagram story in hopes she’d see it. So why should our older relatives be given a pass?
It’s Blunt, Period.
According to some readers, it’s the use of the period that adds a veil of formality, which when used by someone who we’ve been taught to treat with the utmost respect can make us feel like we’ve been a bit too casual with the CEOs of our family. “The use of periods in general sets me on edge,” one person says. “They should know better by now, tell them to drop the period,” says another.
If you aren’t using several run-on sentences sprinkled with comma splices and maybe a couple of exclamation points for good measure, you’re bound to come across as a little mean or, at least, mildly irritated. It’s the same etiquette so many of us use when punctuating emails so as to not seem brash. Haven’t our parents caught on or are they able to — gasp! — assert themselves without feeling guilty and thinking about it every single night before hitting REM? Can’t relate!
Boomers Aim For Texting Brevity
Some say parents use “Ok.” as their default response when they don’t know what else to say. It can also likely be attributed to their lack of understanding that an iMessage reaction can be a legitimate response to some texts. “[Using ‘Ok.’] is just because they haven’t thought it through and needed to say something but didn’t bother to say anything of importance,” one person says.
And it could be worse; there are some texts more concise and even less thought through that could be read into even more than an “Ok.” “Hey, It’s an upgrade from the Y or N my mom used to send when texting first became a thing!” another respondent says.
The Cons Of Yassifying Our Parents’ Texts
Teaching our parents to stop saying “Ok.” to everything might be harder than it looks. After all, the grass is always greener. After bringing up the proposed habit change to your parents you might be met with a greater evil — the overuse of cheugy GIFs or a customized Bitmoji response to every life update you send. I’d rather not see an animated version of my mother grinning at me with a thumbs-up when I text her to tell her I scheduled my annual physical.
Maybe “Ok.” is the generational divide we’ll just have to learn to live with. Though it’s a frustration I can only assume measures close to how our parents feel when we try to explain “Traylor” or the TikTok algorithm to them, let’s face it: Is “Ok.” really worse than turning your own father into a lowercase boy?