It started like any other Tuesday. I woke up, scrolled through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. My boyfriend sent me a meme while I was sleeping and I replied “lol babe.” My cousin posted a news article captioned “so disappointed in our country” and I clicked the “sad” reaction button. I “loved” some pictures of dogs. Dogs are the best!
Then, the unimaginable happened. My friend Jenna sent me a link. That’s it. Just a link. No accompanying message. No laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying emoji or “I can’t believe this” caption. I waited for some context to come – maybe the other message hadn’t gone through – but none came.
Clicking on the link gave me no clues as to what exactly my friend meant by sending it to me. I scanned through my messages again. Was I missing something? A hint at how Jenna perceived it and thus how I should accordingly react? But no, she sent the message without an explanatory message. Was this some kind of trick?
I spent the rest of the week trying to figure out a response to what she sent me. Was it funny? How was I supposed to know, without the telltale “hahahha”? Was I supposed to find it “amazing,” “unbelievable,” or “ugh, men are the worst”? Was I supposed to be inspired or outraged? Had Jenna been kidnapped and somehow managed to email me one single link as a clue to her whereabouts? There was literally no way to tell.
For days, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was desperate to crack the code and figure out how she wanted me to respond. More than that, I couldn’t conceive of the cruelty of sending something out of the blue like that without the slightest hint. I wondered what Jenna expected, sending messages like that. Did she want me to respond organically with my immediate thoughts and feelings about the content she had shared with me? Obviously, that couldn’t be the case, but then why had she left me forced to decide how to feel about it all on my own?
Finally, after many sleepless nights, thousands of drafts, and some painful soul searching, I settled on a neutral response: “wow.” No punctuation, no frills. If it was not in fact “wow,” she could assume I was being sarcastic. If it was something she thought was “wow,” she would hopefully think that I agreed with her. If she had been kidnapped, well, it was already way to late to help I guess. I hit send, my heart pounding, my stomach churning. Within a minute, Jenna responded with two question marks, so I threw my phone into a river and haven’t been heard from since.