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“Kate did so good in the play!” my thumbs fired.

My phone chirped a moment later. A response to my accolades had boomeranged back.

“Thanks?” it read.

I’ll admit, this gave me pause.


Did she doubt my sincerity? I’ll admit the kid was no Mary-Kate Olsen or even Ashley for that matter, but she did great. Or at least pretty good.

If nothing else, even if she didn’t do good, her own mother would think she did good and not question the matter.

Sure, she dropped a line. And she was a little late when the lead came on stage, but all in all, she was a solid pretty good.

My phone chirped again.

“Sorry, that should have read, ‘Thanks!’ ”

Ahhh, then it all became as clear as a brand-new screen protector.

There are plenty of mistakes one can make in the texting universe. One autocorrect to your boss asking for a box of pens is enough to prove that. But it doesn’t end there.

There are the acronyms, something my teen delights in sending. The shorthand saves her time while wasting mine, as I don’t know what “idk” means and have to look it up.

Sarcasm also doesn’t translate. Neither do those time-saving emojis. One friend of mine was sending poop emojis thinking it was chocolate pudding. She really, really likes pudding.

But the “?” vs. “!” is a less advertised mistake that can in an instant turn basic inquiry into a demand, excitement into scrutiny.

“Pick up bacon?” (question involving the prospect of B.L.T.s)

“Pick up bacon!” (emergency involving sudden and urgent need for cured meat)

I blame, of course, the inventor of the phone screen keypad, which has the two punctuations snuggled up together like bosom friends.

“Great job!” (heartfelt kudos)

“Great job?” (you’re an idiot)

On the computer keyboard, the two are located worlds apart. As they should be.

“Pick up toilet paper?” (simple query from the grocery aisle)

“Pick up toilet paper!” (things have gotten ugly)

We all know proofreading is as important as flossing after corn, but in the heat of the texting moment, thumbs can do curious things.

Mistakes are made. Chocolate puddings are sent.

But it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a simple, “Sorry?”

I mean, Sorry?

I mean, SORRY?

Oh, forget it.

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Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at or visit her on Facebook.


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