Ask Miriam | Do Errant Emojis Warrant a Response?


Dear Miriam,

My upstairs neighbor texted me a bunch of emojis late last night. Presumably this was a mistake, and so far I’ve ignored it, but do you think I should say something?


Mistaken Smiley

Dear Smiley,

I will tell you two personally embarrassing stories about mistaken texts. I’m a frequent participant in my local Buy Nothing group, which often means sending messages to people I don’t know. One day, I was arranging a pickup with a neighbor and accidentally put my phone down near my son with the messaging window open. When I came back, he had sent her not one, not two, but 12 giant emoji texts. Since I had to be back in touch with her about plans, I realized immediately, explained what happened, we both laughed about it and moved on.

The second story is more embarrassing and involves trying to text two different people on the same day with the same name spelled differently. One was my husband, and the other was the father of our daughter’s friend, and I was trying to help coordinate a play date. I realized my mistake and tried to clarify by text, which wasn’t easy, but it was not impossible or terribly important either. Fortunately, I just looked clueless as a result, and I never had to talk about it in person.

In both of these stories, I realized quickly and apologized via text. Your neighbor hasn’t yet realized what happened, but next time she goes to text you, she probably will. She might be confused or embarrassed at that point, or she might be relieved that you didn’t say anything and hope you didn’t actually notice. Regardless, since it was emojis rather than actual information, you can at least be sure that another person didn’t miss an important message as a result.

I also recently got a text from an unknown number that said, “Hey, what’s up?” I wrote back that it was a wrong number and the other person apologized. End of uninteresting story. You see, though, this kind of thing happens a lot, and not just to me.

Many of us have our phones with us all the time and use them for tasks ranging from work to checking on kids to keeping up with old friends. We butt dial, we accidentally send shana yoga instead of shana tova to former bosses, (another true story), we reply all to emails, we auto-purchase bacon-flavored crickets from the Amazon app (yet another true story). Our phones are incredible tools with an amazingly high capacity for inappropriate usage and an amazingly low capacity for undoing mistakes.

You did the right thing by not replying to your neighbor, and you’ll continue to do the right thing by not mentioning it next time you see her. Just hope that all the people around you have the good graces to cut you the same slack next time you send something ridiculous by accident.

We have one more set of Jewish holidays to enjoy this week, and I just tried to write chag sameach, but my phone autocorrected to “Chat recheck” instead.

Be well,



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