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World's largest photo competition shares images from around the globe

While holidays have been off the cards recently, many countries are beginning to allow tourists back again, and it could be time to consider where in the world you want to travel next.  

To help inspire you, CEWE has released a collection of new images taken by photographers on their travels as part of the 2019 edition of the CEWE Photo Award, the world’s largest photo competition.

The 23 snaps were submitted as part of the travel & culture category of last year’s competition, which aims to celebrate the best in photography across the globe.

This year’s competition, now in its fourth edition, recently launched for entries and is open to everyone – from keen amateur photographers to established professionals.

Entrants are asked to submit photos which celebrate the competition’s ‘Our world is beautiful’ theme.

There are 10 categories for budding photographers to enter – from aerial shots and animals to landscapes, travel & culture – and entrants have until May 2021 to submit their photos. 

Here, FEMAIL reveals the top most beautiful images in the travel & culture category from last year’s competition to inspire this year’s hopefuls. 

Hungarian photographer Péter Hoszáng submitted ‘Neverland', which was taken in Manarola, Italy which is a small town,in the province of La Spezia.

Hungarian photographer Péter Hoszáng submitted ‘Neverland’, which was taken in Manarola, Italy which is a small town,in the province of La Spezia.

The tiny town has a population of 353 and may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre 

British photographer Bob Riach shared his photo, titled ‘The Northern Lights' taken in Tromso, Norway.  An aurora, sometimes referred to Northern Lights or Polar Lights is a natural light display in the Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions such as the Scandinavian coast

British photographer Bob Riach shared his photo, titled ‘The Northern Lights’ taken in Tromso, Norway.  An aurora, sometimes referred to Northern Lights or Polar Lights is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions such as the Scandinavian coast

Lithuanian student Gabija Kuseliauskyte, who currently lives in the UK, submitted this photo taken in Santorini, Greece. The image is titled ‘Day in Santorini' and captures one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea overlooking the sea and other small islands

Lithuanian student Gabija Kuseliauskyte, who currently lives in the UK, submitted this photo taken in Santorini, Greece.

The image is titled ‘Day in Santorini’ and captures one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea overlooking the sea and other small islands

Slovinian photographer Matej Lepen submitted ‘Damnoen Saduak Floating Market' taken in Thailand at a floating market in Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi Province. The market is about 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok and is often considered the most famous floating market in the world

Slovinian photographer Matej Lepen submitted ‘Damnoen Saduak Floating Market’ taken in Thailand at a floating market in Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi Province.

The market is about 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok and is often considered the most famous floating market in the world

German photographer from Havixbeck submitted 'Balance' taken in Inle-See, Myanmar. It is the second largest lake in the country with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles. The freshwater lake is located in the Shan Hills of Myanmar, which at it's southwestern edge is decorated with gilded Buddha statues

German photographer from Havixbeck submitted ‘Balance’ taken in Inle-See, Myanmar. It is the second largest city in india by area lake in the country with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles.

The freshwater lake is located in the Shan Hills of Myanmar, which at it’s southwestern edge is decorated with gilded Buddha statues 

French photographer Jeremy Jacquemoire, shared 'One night in Tokyo' which was taken in Tokyo, Japan. The image shows the bustling night life of Japan's busy capital, which features ultramodern from neon-lit skyscrapers among the traditional historic architecture of the city

French photographer Jeremy Jacquemoire, shared ‘One night in Tokyo’ which was taken in Tokyo, Japan. The image shows the bustling night life of Japan’s busy capital, which features ultramodern from neon-lit skyscrapers among the traditional historic architecture of the city 

Louise Waldron of, Northborough, Peterborough shared ‘Varanasi Joy' taken in India. Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,  dating back to the 11th century B.C. and is regarded the spiritual capital of the country

Louise Waldron of, Northborough, Peterborough shared ‘Varanasi Joy’ taken in India.

Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,  dating back to the 11th century B.C. and is regarded the spiritual capital of the country

Gabi Steiner,a visual artist from Switzerland, submitted another picture taken in Myanmar called ‘Fischer, Lotus & Co'. The stunning image shows ariel shots of two men on wooden fishing boats on a local river

Gabi Steiner,a visual artist from Switzerland, submitted another picture taken in Myanmar called ‘Fischer, Lotus & Co’.

The stunning image shows ariel shots of two men on wooden fishing boats on a local river 

Photographer Leyla Emektar submitted ‘Light and rhythm' taken in Aydın, Turkey. The ancient Greek Tralles is a city in and the seat of Aydın Province in the Aegean Region. The city is located along a region which was famous for it's fertility and productivity of crops since ancient times.

Photographer Leyla Emektar submitted ‘Light and rhythm’ taken in Aydın, Turkey.

The ancient Greek Tralles is a city in and the seat of Aydın Province in the Aegean Region. The city is located along a region which was famous for it’s fertility and productivity of crops since ancient times. 

Croatian photographer Saša Huzjak shared ‘Desert caravan' taken in Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco's several ergs, a large se of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. These dunes rise up to 150 meters from the surrounding rocky desert and altogether it spans an area of 28 kilometres

Croatian photographer Saša Huzjak shared ‘Desert caravan’ taken in Erg Chebbi, Morocco.

Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco’s several ergs, a large se of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. These dunes rise up to 150 meters from the surrounding rocky desert and altogether it spans an area of 28 kilometres 

‘Jambiani' by Dariusz Ociepa, taken in Jambiani, Tanzania captures women in the village on the island of Unguja,It is located on the southeast coas and has a strong seaweed culture with many farms dotting the coastline and employing 15,000 locals, mainly women

‘Jambiani’ by Dariusz Ociepa, taken in Jambiani, Tanzania captures women in the village on the island of Unguja,It is located on the southeast coas and has a strong seaweed culture with many farms dotting the coastline and employing 15,000 locals, mainly women

‘Souvenir' by Gustav Müller, taken in Hoi An, Vietnam shows an array of Vietnamese dishes. The image was taken on Vietnam's central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town. One of the most famous dishes in Hoi An is cao lau, which translates to Hoi An's secret noodle

‘Souvenir’ by Gustav Müller, taken in Hoi An, Vietnam shows an array of Vietnamese dishes.

The image was taken on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town. One of the most famous dishes in Hoi An is cao lau, which translates to Hoi An’s secret noodle

‘Off to work' by Sofie Rysheuvels, was taken in Yuanyang, China, a southeastern provence well known for its spectacular rice-paddy terracing and part of the area forms one of the country's World Heritage Sites

‘Off to work’ by Sofie Rysheuvels, was taken in Yuanyang, China, a southeastern provence well known for its spectacular rice-paddy terracing and part of the area forms one of the country’s World Heritage Sites 

‘Wings of Liberty' by Ben Cole, taken in New York, USA depicts the famous Statue of Liberty National Monument on on Liberty Island alongside Bald eagles, a bird of prey found in North America synonymous with the idea of freedom and the 'American dream'

‘Wings of Liberty’ by Ben Cole, taken in New York, USA depicts the famous Statue of Liberty National Monument on on Liberty Island alongside Bald eagles, a bird of prey found in North America synonymous with the idea of freedom and the ‘American dream’ 

‘Urzecze' taken by Jakub Chmielewski in Gassy, Poland shows locals in a wooden boat on a river off a village in the administrative district of Gmina Konstancin-Jeziorna

‘Urzecze’ taken by Jakub Chmielewski in Gassy, Poland shows locals in a wooden boat on a river off a village in the administrative district of Gmina Konstancin-Jeziorna

‘Flying to the sun' by Yevhen Samuchenko was taken in Pokhara, Nepal - a city on Phewa Lake known as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trail in the Himalayas

‘Flying to the sun’ by Yevhen Samuchenko was taken in Pokhara, Nepal – a city on Phewa Lake known as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trail in the Himalayas

‘Dubai Sunset' by Linda Ullathorne was taken in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The image depicts the country's famous skyline from the famous Sunset Beach

‘Dubai Sunset’ by Linda Ullathorne was taken in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The image depicts the country’s famous skyline from the famous Sunset Beach 

Susana Lopez's ‘Temple of Sita' was taken in Janakpur, Nepal, a sub-metropolitan city in Dhanusa District. The district is a centre for religious and cultural tourism recently declared the province's temporary capital

Susana Lopez’s ‘Temple of Sita’ was taken in Janakpur, Nepal, a sub-metropolitan city in Dhanusa District.

The district is a centre for religious and cultural tourism recently declared the province’s temporary capital 

'Signpost' by Marcin Drajem was taken in Karpacz, a ski-town in southwestern Poland. Nearby is an entrance to the Karkonosze National Park, with its peaks and lakes

‘Signpost’ by Marcin Drajem was taken in Karpacz, a ski-town in southwestern Poland.

Nearby is an entrance to the Karkonosze National Park, with its peaks and lakes

Anskar Lenzen's ‘A fishers job' was taken in Perast, Montenegro. The image shows a local fisherman of the town on the Bay of Kotor, known for it's proximity to the islets of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks

Anskar Lenzen’s ‘A fishers job’ was taken in Perast, Montenegro.

The image shows a local fisherman of the town on the Bay of Kotor, known for it’s proximity to the islets of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks

Tor Olav Olsen's image ‘Stepwell' was taken in Jaipur, India - the capital of India's Rajasthan state. Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra

Tor Olav Olsen’s image ‘Stepwell’ was taken in Jaipur, India – the capital of India’s Rajasthan state. Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra 

‘Tiger nest' by Christian Sauter, taken in Paro, Bhutan, shows Taktsang Palphug monastery  located in a valley town in Bhutan, west of the capital, clinging to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley

‘Tiger nest’ by Christian Sauter, taken in Paro, Bhutan, shows Taktsang Palphug monastery  located in a valley town in Bhutan, west of the capital, clinging to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley

Stimulus check money: $1,200 payment may still be sent to you this year

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Start finding out the maximum payment that could end up in your pocket if another stimulus package comes your way.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If White House and Democratic negotiators return to the table after the Republican National Conventional to hammer out another economic rescue bill that includes a second stimulus check, how much money could you and your family expect to receive with another payment?

We know lawmakers and the White House are behind another check, but with negotiations on hold, the fate of a second stimulus payment for qualified Americans hangs in the balance. The GOP is exploring a “skinny” bill that proposes a few measures, but which is said to not include direct payments. On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a standalone $25 billion bill to fund the USPS. That doesn’t mean stimulus checks are off the menu.

“Hopefully, what will happen is the Republican Senators will take this [USPS] bill when it comes across,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday on Fox News. “They’ll amend it and actually address many of the things that are hurting America right now in terms of this pandemic response and be able to get it to the president’s desk.” Could another direct payment be part of that bundle?

While we don’t know how the next few weeks will unfold, we can start calculating how much money you might get with a new check and how your payment might be sent, if another stimulus bill — and check — becomes a reality. We update this story often.

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Stimulus Check Standoff

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Could you get the entire $1,200? How to start calculating

The Senate’s HEALS Act from July proposed an upper limit of $1,200 per qualified person, but that doesn’t mean you’d get it all. Your tax filing status — specifically your adjusted gross income, or AGI — is the biggest factor in determining how much stimulus money you could receive. Let’s say you’re personally eligible for the full $1,200 (read up more on income limit qualifications here), but what about the rest of your family?

There’s potentially good news there. The first stimulus check, part of the bipartisan CARES Act, left out child dependents who were 17 or older and college students under 24 years old. The Republican HEALS Act plan would include $500 for dependents regardless of age, including children and adults you claim in your tax filings.

The calculations can be tricky, since they take into account your income, your dependents and whether you filed as single, married or head of household. The figures below were based on this calculator The Washington Post put together and could shed some light on what you might get if the HEALS Act were to pass as is.

Stimulus check calculations

Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

Scenario 4

Filed 2019 taxes?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Filing status

Single

Head of household

Married

Married

2018 or 2019 tax AGI

$80,000

$140,000

$130,000

$130,000

Dependents under 17 (CARES Act)

0

1

2

2

Dependents over 17 (HEALS Act)

0

0

0

2

Calculated check amount

$950

$325

$3,400

$4,400

What’s the maximum amount of stimulus money your household might receive?

Depending on how negotiations shake out, the total amount your family may get could change. Here’s a look at the caps put in place to give you an idea of what government leaders are thinking.

CARES Act: With the CARES Act from March, there was no limit to the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were under 17 and claimed by the taxpayer on the tax return, according to the Tax Foundation. Each dependent would garner the taxpayer $500. Theoretically, a family in which two adults and six children under 17 were eligible for the full amount could receive $5,400.

HEALS Act: Similar to the CARES Act, the HEALS Act put forth by Republicans doesn’t mention a cap on the amount a family may receive. The difference is that it doesn’t limit dependents to those under 17 to qualify for the $500 payment.

Heroes Act: The Heroes Act, put together by the Democratic-led House and which has never been taken up or vetoed by the Senate, would place a cap of $6,000 for households of five or more. Essentially, it proposes $1,200 for each adult and dependent, with a maximum of three dependents per family. 

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undecided. 

James Martin/CNET

If a bill get approved, three ways a new IRS stimulus payment might arrive

While there’s no official plan yet, it’s likely that receiving this second stimulus check will work much like it did the first time around. 

Direct deposit: If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 and included direct deposit banking information, it’s likely you can receive your check as a direct deposit. Even if you didn’t file your direct deposit information with the IRS during tax season, you should still have options to opt-in. If you asked for an extension on your taxes, you can still file them before the Oct. 15, 2020 deadline and choose to share your direct deposit information with the IRS. If and when a stimulus check happens, the IRS is likely to reopen the online tool it used for the first round and let you log your information then.

A paper check in the mail: If you don’t register your banking details with the IRS, you’ll likely receive a paper check in the mail, which you can deposit or cash. If you’ve recently moved, make sure you file your change of address paperwork. The IRS will use your last known address, which could hold up delivery of your check or otherwise cause a delay.

EIP card: Under the CARES Act, about 4 million people were also sent money in the form of a prepaid “economic impact payment” card, which you spend like cash. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes.

Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus check here.

When will Congress complete the second stimulus check plans?

That’s the trillion-dollar question. The Senate adjourned until after Labor Day, with sessions not originally planned to resume until Sept. 8. Senate Republicans said they plan to introduce a new coronavirus relief bill that includes funding for the USPS as well. At this point, it doesn’t seem like this bill will include stimulus check payments, but the Senate’s proposal hasn’t been released yet, so we don’t know for sure. 

Here’s more on how the timeline could play out if a bill is passed, including when the IRS could send the first checks.

If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delaywhat you can do if you think your payment is lost or has fallen through the cracks and if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

Shelby Brown and Alison DeNisco Rayome contributed to this report.

Asia Rice-Indian export rates firm in muted holiday trade

By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri

BENGALURU, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Indian rice export prices edged higher this week, buoyed by a stronger rupee and higher local paddy prices, while trade remained thin in rival hubs because of the holiday season.

top 10 biggest cities in andhra pradesh exporter India´s 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted around $362-$366 a tonne, up from last week’s $360-$365.

The slight upturn was because of a strong rupee, which trims exporters’ margins from overseas sales, though demand remains weak, said one exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Last year New Delhi had raised the paddy rice purchase price by 3.7% to 1,815 rupees per 100 kg for the 2019/20 crop.

In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were quoted at $360 a tonne on Thursday, little changed from last week’s $355-$360.

“Trade is very thin at the moment as inventory has run low and many exporters are still on holiday,” said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Farmers in the country’s largest rice-growing area, the Mekong Delta, are preparing land for the key winter-spring crop, which is expected to peak by the end of February,” he added.

No new deals were clinched in the past two weeks, apart from those to fulfil signed contracts, another trader said.

Preliminary shipping data showed more than 100,000 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port between Jan. 1 and Jan. 23, with most of it bound for West Africa, Iraq and South Korea.

Vietnam’s rice exports in 2019 are forecast to be up 2.5% from a year earlier at 6.259 million tonnes, official data showed last week.

In Bangladesh, meanwhile, the rice crop could be hit by a prolonged cold spell, said senior agriculture ministry official Mizanur Rahman.

“The rice seedbeds are taking on a yellow tinge as sunlight is failing to reach them on the ground due to thick fog. If it persists for long, crops will be affected,” he said.

Two cold spells hit the country over the past two weeks and another is expected in a few days.

Thailand´s rice-trading market was closed for most of the week because of the New Year holidays.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok Editing by David Goodman )

Girl, 13, plunges from 12th floor balcony and somehow SURVIVES

This is the terrifying moment a teenage girl plummeted twelve storeys from an apartment building in India. 

Gut-wrenching footage shows Hetal Saroli, 13, crashing into a bike shed metal roof with such force that the roof breaks and flips her over onto the ground. 

The teenager lost her balance while on the twelfth-floor balcony when she leaned over to look at some school friends walking across the street below in Gujarat.

But despite suffering 18 injuries, including a broken hand and internal bleeding, Miss Saroli survived the fall on April 13.  

Footage shows Hetal Saroli, 13, plummeting twelve storeys from an apartment building in India

Footage shows Hetal Saroli, 13, plummeting twelve storeys from an apartment building in India

The teenager crashes into a bike shed metal roof with such force that the roof breaks and flips her over onto the ground

The teenager crashes into a bike shed metal roof with such force that the roof breaks and flips her over onto the ground

The teenager crashes into a bike shed metal roof with such force that the roof breaks and flips her over onto the ground

She is now in a stable condition at the New Civil Hospital in Surat, in the west Indian state.

Miss Saroli is undergoing treatment in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, and has many operations ahead of her, medics say.

Doctors added that it was a miracle the teenager survived – after suffering injuries to her waist, breaking one hand, and fracturing the other, as well as stomach, head and leg injuries.

Onlookers rush to help the teenager following her horrific fall in India. Despite suffering 18 injuries, including a broken hand and internal bleeding, Miss Saroli survived the fall on April 13

Onlookers rush to help the teenager following her horrific fall in India.

Despite suffering 18 injuries, including a broken hand and internal bleeding, Miss Saroli survived the fall on April 13

The teenager lost her balance while on the twelfth-floor balcony when she leaned over to look at some school friends walking across the street below

The teenager lost her balance while on the twelfth-floor balcony when she leaned over to look at some school friends walking across the street below

She is now in a stable condition at the New Civil Hospital in Surat, in the west Indian state of Gujarat (pictured)

She is now in a stable condition at the New Civil Hospital in Surat, in the west Indian state of Gujarat (pictured)

They say she will need a number Visiting places of Surat operations to treat her many injuries, which includes extensive fractures to her ribcage.

But important organs including her brain, heart, kidney and liver are not harmed and are working fine, medics claimed. 

Surgeons have already performed a tracheostomy – which is a surgical procedure on the neck which helps a person breathe – and an intubate while setting her broken limbs and performing surgery to her abdomen.

The phone that almost ruined my social life

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Punctuation is powerful.

Getty Images

There was a period in college when my friends thought I hated them. 

Hate might be a strong word. They thought I thought they were annoying. And dumb. And bothersome. That couldn’t have been further from the truth.

This discrepancy in how I felt about them and how I seemingly acted wasn’t because I was moody or short-tempered or, you know, wanted to be left alone to haunt the campus bell tower. 

It was my cellphone that was to blame.

From 2009 to 2010, I was the owner of a phone which, by some unfortunate glitch, applied three dots onto the end of every single text I sent, making each dispatch seem strangely passive-aggressive or — in some cases — unexpectedly suggestive. 

“Ok…” 

“That’s fine…”

“Come on over…”

Offending friends. Confusing potential dates. I could send a pulse of social chaos with the press of a button. This is a story about the power of punctuation — three little dots that morphed the meaning of whatever I was typing, leaving my friends baffled and me wondering more than a decade later what exactly the damage was from those dots. Or even what would have happened if they’d been exclamation marks instead. 

At fault: the Samsung Slash, a slider phone made for Virgin Mobile‘s prepaid range. At the time, , calling it “a decent entry-level phone with a few extra features that put it just above a basic handset.” It fit in the palm of my hand, and entirely in my back pocket, and the slider style made it feel like some James Bond-esque communication device. Most importantly, it held a charge, unlike my previous worn-out flip phone. None of the reviews from the time, including ours, mentioned the dots.

The Samsung Slash. 

Corinne Schulze/CNET

Samsung didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Two weeks ago, memories of the Slash came back to me during a Slack conversation with colleagues about the overuse of exclamation marks. 

I decided to ask my friends from college if they remembered the infamous three dots. Surely, they wouldn’t, I thought. It’s been more than 10 years. Why would anyone hang onto such a detail after a decade of marriages, babies, graduate degrees, new jobs, new biggest cities in India and all our own more important personal details? 

To my slow-churning horror, most of them remembered. 

“The social implications of that phone were on another level,” my friend Aaron says, after describing “the extreme anxiety” it gave him for a full year. At one point while working out logistics to go see John Mayer with some press tickets I had, he’d texted me, “Do you not want me to go?”

Cassidy, my chief co-conspirator on the campus newspaper, remembers texting about potential story ideas: “Every single time [you] ended with these three dots, I just assumed [you were] passive aggressively telling me that everything I said was dumb.”

“It seemed like I was always bugging you,” my friend Emily remembers.

Another friend, Melissa, says she felt like I was always communicating something she just wasn’t picking up on. “It felt very out of character for you to be constantly speaking in innuendo.”

Even all these years later, it’s a bit cringey to hear. I want to reach back into the past and tell my 20-year-old self to forward the bills to 2020 and buy a damn iPhone. 

It was like my evil twin was intercepting my communications, gleefully causing havoc in the nerdiest way possible: errant punctuation.

In reality, technology has been adding layers to the way we communicate for a long time. In ‘s 2019 book Brave, Not Perfect, she talks about how many women litter their emails with exclamation marks and emoji. Yes! Sure! Can do! 

We are deliriously enthusiastic, all in an effort to seem friendly and approachable and definitely not unlikable, or even worse — direct. There is a surfeit of articles about how adding a period to the end of texts is seen as curt, the equivalent of your mom calling you by your middle name. The Washington Post, in 2015, called it “an act of psychological warfare against your friends.”

In 2017, researchers gave a name to all the weird spellings, emoji and punctuation we use to convey the facial expressions and body language absent from messaging: textisms. When you message your friend “!!!!!!” or decide between using “wut” and “what?” or stick about 10 extra s’s on the end of a “yes,” all of those are textisms, and they’re wildly important in adding additional meaning and context. Every punctuation mark, or lack thereof, matters. 

And there I was sending out ellipsis dots like I wanted to burn down my social circle and disappear into the West on horseback.

As soon I realized what was happening, I tried to figure out how to fix the dots. The internet turned up only a few forum posts from other people with the same issue. With no other options, I started signing my texts “– EC,” like your dad does, in hopes of putting something, anything, in between the content of my texts and those dots. 

“I’ll meet you outside –EC …”

That too, was head-scratching to my friends. “I think I asked you why you signed your texts and that’s when you told me it was because of the dots,” Emily says. “Everything made more sense.”

And so began the explanations. Every time I exchanged numbers with someone, like a classmate I had a crush on, I offered either in person or via text, a painfully crafted warning. Trying to sound casual, I rattled off, “So my phone does this weird thing where it tacks three dots onto all my texts, which is pretty awkward. So I sign my texts so it doesn’t sound like I’m being passive-aggressive.” And then I prayed they would remember.

“It was really hilarious, even when I knew why it was happening,” my former roommate Kindall tells me. Her husband, Nick, offers jokingly on the text thread: “I have ended friendships over people using …”  

Had anyone dropped me because of my texting issues? It’s been too long to know for sure. 

And then in December 2010, my senior year, in the middle of the most intense breaking-news situation the newspaper had ever seen, my first smartphone arrived in the mail. In the newspaper office, I frantically unwrapped the compact little BlackBerry and ported over my number, managing to set up my Twitter and email accounts before jogging back to my apartment, emailing all the way.

And just like that, a year of strained relationships ended. Whatever I texted was exactly what I meant. I didn’t hate my friends anymore. And when I asked my friends why they didn’t ditch me that year, the general answer was that they knew me better than whatever was happening with my phone. 

Admittedly, I still have low-lying paranoia about my texts, emails and Slack messages. Do I sound sarcastic? Abrupt? So much so, I make myself delete the excess emoji and exclamation marks I’ve come to rely on to make sure no one ever thinks I hate them again. 

I’m rarely mad, but I’m also not doing backflips over here, answering messages about meeting times and article deadlines. Mercifully, my phone won’t betray any additional meaning.

I’m OK. 

OK…

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