It’s Wrong to Look Over Someone’s Shoulder as They Draft a Text. Here’s Why I Weigh In.

It’s a tale as old as time: Through no fault of your own, you find yourself seated on the subway right next to someone drafting a long text, the type of text that changes lives. It is undoubtedly wrong and morally reprehensible to look over someone’s shoulder as they write a text, and frankly, doing so enacts harm. That’s why I don’t just look; I weigh in directly on how to really nail the tone.


It was author Jack McDevitt who said, “The measure of a civilization is in the courage, not of its soldiers, but of its bystanders.” Therefore, if you see a person drafting a text on a crowded subway and don’t weigh in, you are a bad person. People will practically beg for help by trying to hide their phone with their body and glancing around to see if anyone notices how long their text is. And yes. I do. You’re in good hands, mon chéri.


There are various ways to signal to someone that you’re willing to help them draft their text. You could start with the classic, subtle whisper, “Don’t worry, I’m here to help.” Or you could opt for a “hot and cold” system: a quiet grunt when they write an impactful sentence versus a hiss and tut when they miss the mark. I’ve gone as far as taking the phone from their very hands, making slight edits for clarity and flow, and handing it back with no questions asked. You’re welcome, mi amor. I speak many languages.



Imagine if the roles were reversed: Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that, actually, “terrible” is a stronger adjective than “bad,” and “father” is more impactful than “dad”? I sure would! I have spent years building an expansive vocabulary to best express my “big emotions,” as the courts call them, and this is the perfect time to put that knowledge to use for the greater good. It is important to remember that a stance of neutrality is equivalent to taking the side of the oppressor, who – in this case – is the person being broken up with over a super long text.


As a community, it is our responsibility to look out for one another, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. That’s why it’s never been more important to risk overstepping some eenie-weenie boundaries to assist your fellow man with his extremely personal business. That being said, if I answer my phone in public and you eavesdrop, I will cut you.