When I was in college, I got really into the show “How I Met Your Mother.” Draw whatever conclusions you want from that, but it got me through some tough times and taught me lessons that I took with me to this day. For example, there’s an episode where Barney and Robin break up, and Barney goes to Ted for help getting through it. In more or less words, Ted tells Barney to write down all the things about Robin that caused them to break up. That way, when he inevitably wanted to get back together with her, he could read the list and remember all of that.
Whatever your thoughts are on the show, you have to admit that Ted kind of has a good point there. It’s pretty hard to cut someone out of your life if a few years down the road, you think to yourself, “Damn, why haven’t I gotten drinks with Chris in so long?” only to get drinks with Chris and remember that he’s an absolute trash person. Sure, you could pull a Ted and write a letter to yourself, but that sounds like a lot of effort. Plus, what if you lose that letter? Chalk it up as a loss, you now have a toxic person back in your life. The solution is almost a little too obvious, and it’s something I’ve been doing since August 14, 2015.
Don’t delete your text messages.
That’s right. Don’t delete your text messages. Let those fuckers build up over time until you have the damn Library of Congress in your pocket. Look, I know this sounds insane. Having record of everything you’ve sent and received on your phone can be awful risky. Sure, there are some things that you might not want your parents or friends to find, but trust me when I say that there are a ton of benefits to this method.
For example, there are a bunch of relationships that I’ve been in and out of over time that have ended in metaphorically fiery text message arguments. Some even as recent as this year. Sometimes there’s a clean break and the fallout results in destructive texts. In both of those cases, it hadn’t been two months before I wanted to text both people. When I went to send a new message, I saw our previous interactions and was reminded of the artillery shells that fell. I don’t want to relive that. Don’t have time or energy for it.
On the other end of the spectrum, you might be concerned about the texts you might want to hide. I get that. I’ve had some close calls with opening up the wrong conversation in front of the wrong person and honestly, it’s not that bad. In fact, it’s kind of exhilarating. Like the time I had to prove something to my mom (more on that in a second) and accidentally opened the conversation I was having with the girl I’m kind of dating the night before. It was exhilarating. I’m not an adrenaline junkie but hot damn, I get it after that experience.
As a person who is historically awful at record keeping, it’s a huge help for me to have archives of what I said to people in writing. Sure, nobody likes to have screenshots of texts rubbed in their face every time they misinterpreted something, but it’s kind of astounding how often that happens to me. That, and how often I forget what it is that I said. Look I know this is shitty, but the thing is, I’m wrong a lot. If keeping my texts means giving me an opportunity to flex and be right for once, I’m going to do it.
The problem is that this is a double-edged sword. Like I said, I’m wrong a lot. More often than not, I committed to something that I didn’t want to or said something I didn’t mean, and that leaves me scrambling for an excuse to get out of it or looking for ways that other people could have interpreted what I said. It’s a really bad look, and it’s not something I’m proud of.
Whether you’re trying to remind yourself of arguments past or just trying to prove a point, it’s always a good idea to hang on to those texts. That’s what I’ve been doing, and it’s only led me to three arguments that I can remember. I consider that a success. Either that, or I’m just lazy..