samsung logo

Bring Back The Green Text Message Bubble

Never before have our phones been as pervasive in every aspect of our lives.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Samsung to share its new Galaxy Z Flip4 and Z Fold4 phones, so you can choose to close the digital world when you want to.
Lately, I’ve been turning my phone off in the evenings. It’s only for a couple of hours per day, but in this fast-paced modern world, that time feels as sacred as a spa trip. 
In an era of 'read receipt' technology, it’s hard to feign the whole “I didn’t see your message”, or even the “Sorry I missed your call” of yesteryear. No longer do we tell our internet friends that we’ll “BRB” because we’re stepping away from the computer to make a snack.
Nope. We’re always here. Always available via multiple communication channels at all hours of the day. 
It’s gotten to the point where I consciously turn my phone face-down at my desk because seeing the barrage of (well-meaning) messages from friends, family and my partner roll in makes my chest tighten. And the Facebook messenger 'Mute' button has gotten a work-out lately.
While I obviously love connecting with people, the mental note of remembering to reply to Instagram DMs, emails, Facebook messages and texts is piling up.
Our emails are in the palm of our hands, Slack has given our workplaces the ability to instant-message us, and with Australians spending an average of nearly two hours per day on social media, it’s no wonder that digital availability is expected. It can be anxiety-inducing.
This feeling of needing to be available to our online friends or community has become so pervasive that a recent tweet described TikToks you've been sent to watch as having “friend homework”. 
It turns out that I’m far from the only person feeling this way and there’s actually a term for it: information overload.
According to one 2020 study, when tech users are constantly bombarded with information, they’re “less likely” to respond because their attention must be increasingly divided between multiple sources.
All of this is to ask, should we bring back the green text message bubble?
If your text messages are sending or receiving as green then it means it's been sent from a device as an SMS (short service message) rather than an iMessage.
The best thing about this little green text? You can't tell when someone has read it.
Some tech brands still have the SMS green text bubble incorporated into their ecosystem. Flip phones like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip4 and Z Fold4 are having a renaissance, and for good reason. In addition to using the green text bubble, they allow you to shut off entirely — or just see who’s trying to reach you without needing to open your phone, so you’ll be less tempted to jump back into your TikTok scroll. You can also use their built-in functions like Focus Mode, which allows you to choose apps that you want to reduce notifications for and control the windows of time in which you do receive them.
Plus, what could be more mentally satisfying than literally flipping your phone closed à la Paris Hilton in the '00s?
Setting boundaries in general with friends and family around your mental availability and access, whether digital or otherwise, can help to protect your mental well-being. It may even make your friendships stronger as you reply to messages when you have the mental capacity to do so, and not just because you feel obliged to give them something.
With our lives being more digitised than ever before — and with no indicator of that slowing down thanks to the Metaverse — it'll be up to us to figure out our digital limits and accessibility.
BRB, going to put my phone on Focus Mode.
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from Tech