Nicki Minaj: boss of all media or textual fascist? Either could apply to the multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, depending on your point of view, after beholding the following string of tweets she unleashed this weekend regarding things she does and does not accept in the text messages she receives:
1. “ok” is OK only as a one-way, conversation-ending declaration. OK?
2. “kk” is never OK, but “K” is.
3. Save the bars for your raps and text her in paragraphs.
What do you think of these rules? I will tell you how I feel, since I don’t care either way if Nicki Minaj blocks me on her phone or whatever other device she’s holding: I hate them! I don’t think anyone should impose communication rules on anyone else, and as someone whose trade is rooted in the English language, I would expect Nicki Minaj to respect the choices other people make in the name of self-expression.
Here Nicki reminds me of guys I’ve seen on Grindr and Scruff whose profiles dictate elaborate, frankly arbitrary rules for how and now not to approach them: Don’t say “sup” or “hey”; Do say something interesting; Show your dick immediately; Don’t even let on that you have a dick, etc. etc. I don’t want to interact with someone who’s going to tell me how I need to behave in order to have my existence considered worth acknowledging. But this is (outside of the demonstrative purposes of this post) my silent rule, as I would much rather people come at me in the way they see fit and then judge them accordingly. I think you should let people do what they want because I believe that when someone shows you who they are not only should you believe them, but they’re doing you and your human-filtration system a favor. You only have so much time in your life for only so many people; anything that can signal someone is worth ignoring is a potential boon to your personal efficiency.
(By the way, Maya Angelou’s advice that I just invoked is second only to the words of Tyra Banks during America’s Next Top Model Cycle 2 in terms of wisdom that changed my life and that I think about basically everyday: “Everybody talks about everybody.” And more and more, they do it over text.)
I have felt oppressed by other people’s text rules. I had a boyfriend who hated the thumbs-up emoji. I don’t know why. He just...didn’t like it, so I couldn’t do it. Great, another thing to memorize about a person that I wasn’t going to end up being with forever. Another ex of mine practically threw a fit when he asked me if I wanted to do something, and I responded “sure.” Sure! It means yes! It means, “I’m going to do what you want, per the proposition that is directly hanging over my affirmative response!” “No problem” sometimes becomes a problem when over-sensitive people want to scrutinize it. Nicki’s assertion that “K” is OK comes as a mild shock to me, as experience has beaten me into thinking that this is an entirely inappropriate way to share a brief display of affability and I should be ashamed for ever having even considered that one letter could do such a thing.
In Jezebel Slack, Nicki’s rules kicked off a heated discussion of texting etiquette. Among the expressed pet peeves of this site’s editorial staff were:
- periods (Example: “Yes.”)
- “‘Yes’ in general.”
- “oh ok”
- “ok” alone
- leaving the group chat (“as like storming out of the room”)
- “sorry just saw this”
It’s not that language doesn’t have nuance, it’s just that these nuances are open to interpretation, especially within textual communication given that most people are inexpert writers, so that a straightforward reading of these things always feels like the logical route, failing additional context clues. Everyone is entitled to their things (“I hate ‘K!’ It’s just my thing!,” you say because you’re wild like that), but sometimes it seems that people are looking for a reason to be offended. I’m not! I don’t want the hassle. If you say “sure,” I’m just going to read it as, “yes,” because that is what it means, and if you want to be passive-aggressive, I’m sorry but you’re just going to have to speak up loudly enough until you become aggressive-aggressive because I don’t have time to sort out what’s what in your mind tricks, you big baby!