Is it possible to block someone via text ONLY- and not calls?
March 15, 2019 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to block someone via text ONLY- and not calls? I have an android.

There are certain people who are too text happy... They text and text and text because they are too uncomfortable speaking to a human being. I've noticed these types tend to be introverted in nature and are like this with everyone in their lives. The problem is that these types of people will often text things that are really more quickly and easily solved via a phone call and getting them to switch over to just calling instead is a big project in and of itself. I want to be able to block a couple of people via texting only so that they are forced to instead CALL me at all times. It would save an enormous amount of time and ultimately I feel it would be good for them too to help them get out of their shell a bit. But my actual concern is just getting things done more efficiently which sometimes texting is does not help with.
posted by fantasticness to Computers & Internet (24 answers total)
I know there are ways, on most phones, to mute text conversations so you don’t get notifications. I’m not an android user so I can’t give you specific instructions.

Alternatively, if and when they text you, call them back to respond?
posted by Grandysaur at 11:18 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

You can turn off notifications per-thread in Messages. This isn't exactly what you're asking for, but it will achieve close to the same result, though the texts will still be in the Messages app if you open the main screen.
posted by kdar at 11:19 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

It is my understanding that the sender would believe that you did in fact receive the text if it was blocked.

You might be able to set up an If This Than That that does an auto-reply to those numbers that says, "Please call me." Or you could do this by hand, replying to their text and asking them to call you.

I am empathetic to your situation, but I know that personally I often send texts in situations where I cannot easily or politely make a phone call -- like a doctor's office waiting room or a child's basketball game -- but I have the time to send a text. In another scenario, there are times that I need the information in written form because I am more likely to forget details if it was spoken or it is easier to have written, like an address. Finally, I also prefer to text people because I don't want to interrupt them with a phone call. To me, a phone call signifies EMERGENCY, whereby a text is less invasive.

I'd also add that, IMHO, it isn't your business to try to get them out of their shell. If these are friends/family, you could kindly say, "Hey, Cousin Sarah, I LOVE hearing from you, but, ya know, it would be so great if we could chat via voice instead of text sometimes. I love the richness of hearing your voice." If they are co-workers or other professional relationships, I do not believe that this is your place, beyond efficiency in the workplace. Saying something like, "Hey George, you know that 12 text chain we had last week about the TPS report? I'm so glad that it finally got resolved, but I dunno, maybe it would have been easier and faster to just, you know, like pick up the phone and talk it out? So next time we are in a situation like like, it is cool if you text me first to ask if I am free to talk, but can we try voice next time?"
posted by k8t at 11:22 AM on March 15 [26 favorites]

This may sound bad, but you can "train" them. There is no law you have to read or reply to a TXT right away. Admittedly, if these are co-workers then you should be prompt and reliable - maybe they are texting because they are in a meeting, or an open-plan office.

But, friends, associates and family can learn your preferred communications style. And - to be less passive-aggressive, politely ask them to call you.
posted by jkaczor at 11:28 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]

When you say you want to block a text, what do you expect to happen on their end? Do you want them to get a message informing them that you do not accept texts from their number, a message that says only calls are accepted from their number or what? How do you envision them knowing you blocked their texts but not their calls?

Is your Android phone rooted?
posted by AugustWest at 11:29 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Most Android texting apps have a way to block or blacklist someone - such as long-pressing on the person's name in the list of people you've gotten texts from, then (you may have to touch the 3-vertical-dots icon to get a menu of options) select "Block" or "Blacklist". However, as others have pointed out, the texter gets no message or notification of the fact that they're texting into the void; they just see that you never respond.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:41 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

You can also try searching for "[texting app name] app (block,blacklist)" to find instructions specific to your app.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:44 AM on March 15

What solutions you put in place also depend on whether this is a work issue or a personal life issue. If you have a work phone that's expected to be used for your job, you may not have the ability to completely block them without it becoming a performance issue that reflects poorly on you. You can always text back and say that the issue is better dealt with on the phone and that you await their call. Repeat as necessary or call them directly yourself.

If it's personal life, tell the people you're targeting that you've turned texting notifications off and that you're minimizing texting and that if they need you, to call. You can blacklist numbers, but the sender won't know that you've blacklisted them and will not receive any of their texts unless you tell them.
posted by quince at 11:50 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]

How would the sender know that the text had been blocked? If your goal is to get them to call you, you would need to implement some kind of macro that auto-replied to all texts received from a certain number with a message saying that the phone isn't accepting text messages. Not sure if such a thing exists.
posted by slkinsey at 11:56 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Set up an autocorrect in your dictionary for some easy to type string of letters you'll never use, like qzwx. Set this to autocorrect to "This Verizon user is no longer receiving SMS/MMS messages." Respond to unwanted texts with this message.

Another option available to you is to tell them with actual words that you prefer phone calls. I'm an introvert who prefers texting (and can acknowledge simple requests for communication preferences) and I think this question makes you sound like a passive aggressive weenie.
posted by phunniemee at 12:23 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]

I generally try to meet folks where they are in terms of communications preferences, but on the odd occasion when I really need someone to start picking up the phone for something instead of reflexively texting my approach has been to respond to their text by immediately calling them, saying "hey, I'd rather just do this on the phone since it'll be quicker", and then doing it on the phone. I haven't had a case yet where that didn't change the text vs. phone dynamic with that person; I've found it to be be an effective way to actively communicate my preferences in the moment (rather than hope they just sorta pick up on it by implication etc.) and it avoids any stink of passive-aggressiveness in the process.
posted by cortex at 12:28 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]

Yeah as others have noted the main issue is that they won't get any notification on their end that their message didn't go through. This is by design; generally you don't want blocked people to know they've been blocked—better to let them howl into the ether. (Apple's iMessage does however take the opposite tack.) So in terms of "training" the other person to call instead of text, I don't know how effective this would be.

I'd consider the auto-responder route, I think that might be the most effective.

Or just mute the conversation and tell the over-texter that you are only going to check your texts once per day or so, like email, and if they need you more often than that, to call instead. I actually know several people who have done that, just as a general rule, because they dislike the implied promise of immediate action that some people think texting implies.

Google recently decided, for reasons known largely only to Google, to ban all apps that automatically forward SMSes from one number to another number. (I don't know why, but presumably it was being used for some sort of nefarious/annoying purpose.) However, you can still get apps that will forward SMSs from particular numbers to an email address. So you could have incoming messages from particularly text-happy people forwarded to your email address, which you could review periodically like the rest of your email.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:37 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

I feel the exact same way as you, but with texts and calls reversed. Phone calls are so inefficient and inconvenient 99% of the time, and yet some people insist on them. Why have a 5-minute conversation that interrupts both of your days when a 5-second text is all you need?

The way I approach this in a social context, which works quite well, is multifaceted:

1. I directly tell people I really hate phone calls and strongly prefer to text instead. Repeat as needed.
2. if they call me anyway, I will occasionally answer if it's convenient or in the rare cases when it might be more efficient, but usually I don't answer and instead text them to ask what's up
3. I accept that I can't control what they do, and that this might mean they choose not to contact me as much or even at all if they can't use their preferred style. I can only control what I do, which is choosing whether or not to converse with them by phone.

A similar approach in the opposite direction would likely work just as well.

However, very importantly, I do not pretend that I'm somehow doing them a favour by forcing them to switch to my own preferred communication style. If I thought someone was attempting to force me to talk on the phone instead of texting to "bring me out of my shell" I would not continue to spend time with that person. I am sure you don't mean it this way, but please understand that it sounds incredibly condescending.
posted by randomnity at 1:42 PM on March 15 [18 favorites]

"Alternatively, if and when they text you, call them back to respond?"

This doesn't work. These types usually just let it go to voicemail and then respond via text. It's not like there's any legal reason for this. They do this even in their most personal relationships. What has worked better is to not respond to any text at all since I already made clear to them if I don't receive a call I figure it can't possibly be worth my time.

This does work, but it takes a LONG time. They just text and text and text for WEEKS despite my no response before they start to take any of it seriously. I know two people like this and it's infuriating. I literally ended a relationship completely over this silly problem. I'd rather not receive ANY communication from these types of people at all than receive endless texts with endless emojis that are used to avoid the written text being taken the wrong way.
posted by fantasticness at 4:18 PM on March 15

As already mentioned. There are certain issues that are much more efficiently and quickly delt with via phone. Text is meant for when you're in a hospital waiting room or in a meeting or just busy and can't get back to the person. It is NOT meant for long emotional diatribes that take up three pages of phone screen or intricate planning situations where two people must collaborate at the same time in order to get something done.
posted by fantasticness at 4:46 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

It doesn’t sound like you like these people at all, so instead of “training” them it would be a lot easier to drop the friendship and move on with your life.

Alternatively, call them back and say why you need to say. If it goes to voicemail then that’s fine, leave a message saying you’ll call them back when they’re free or something. You can’t make people talk to you on the phone if they don’t want to.
posted by lydhre at 6:51 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]

Text is meant for when you're in a hospital waiting room or in a meeting or just busy and can't get back to the person. It is NOT meant for long emotional diatribes that take up three pages of phone screen or intricate planning situations where two people must collaborate at the same time in order to get something done.

I mean, sometimes it is though? Fine if it doesn’t work for you personally, but you aren’t doing anyone any favors by pretending that your way is the One True Way and everyone who doesn’t work like that needs to be trained into proper civility. And the “getting them out of their shell” attitude is some serious condescending bullcrap. If I could sense that someone felt that way about me, no way in hell would I reward them by bending over backwards to accommodate their communication preferences.

If they don’t pick up when you call them, you could try sending a text right when you hang up that says “Are you free for a phone call? I think this would work better that way/I would rather talk this out in person.” If they keep trying to text back, rinse and repeat, “I’m sorry, I would really rather do this over the phone.”

The suggestion earlier in the thread to have an auto response is probably the best way to get people to call you. If you want them to stop texting, but don’t particularly care if they call or not, you can go the just don’t respond route. This is more likely to lead to a fade than a conversion to phone conversations, but it sounds like you don’t really like these people, so maybe that’s fine. If the texts are bothering you in the meantime, you can turn off notifications for specific people. (I’m assuming you can, anyway—I have an iphone, but I would imagine the same feature exists for android.) You could then just delete the texts without looking at them.
posted by tan_coul at 10:13 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]

"Why have a 5-minute conversation that interrupts both of your days when a 5-second text is all you need?"

100% agree. But if a 5-second text is all that's needed, then text is all you need. A 102 word essay- (a real text I received from one of these folks) is not a time saver via texting. It's the opposite. These kinds of things can be dealt with in a 2 minute phone call and take 10 minutes of texting to write and respond to.
posted by fantasticness at 1:30 AM on March 16

Who are you to decide what texting is "meant for"? I mean that question as one for you to really consider! It sounds like your frustration over texting is creeping into severe resentment - to the point of ending a relationship! - so perhaps it would serve you to reconsider that what you consider the right way to use text messaging is only the right way for you, and that other people's preferences are just as valid, and not something to cause you ire.
posted by srrh at 6:54 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]

Introvert here who hates phone calls and strongly prefers texts. When I say "hate," I don't mean, "oh, I'd rather send a bunch of lazy emojis than talk to this person." I mean that phones trigger my anxiety disorder, sometimes to the point of a panic attack. I mean that I have to self-medicate before most business calls. I mean that there's some sort of disconnect in my brain that makes it really difficult to comprehend a disembodied voice on the telephone. I mean that a half-hour call leaves me exhausted. And this is me after several years of therapy, and I have a surprising number of friends who feel the same way, some to the same extent. It's more common than you think.

I've had people try to "train" me out of this or offer to work on it with me "for my own good." I stopped seeing someone I briefly dated because they would not respect this boundary.

I'm trying to answer your question and think of how you could possibly make this work if any of your acquaintances are like me. There's no good way. Some of them will just stop communicating with you. You're trying to frame this as helping them when you're really just ignoring a boundary and wanting them to bend to your convenience.

Acknowledging their reluctance might help in some circumstances. "Hey, I want to talk about [important thing] with you! I know you try to avoid phones, but I'd really appreciate it if we could do this via a call. That okay?" If someone's okay with that sometimes, compromise and let them text other times. Or just don't talk to them if that's a boundary you need to set.
posted by QuickedWeen at 9:33 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]

The correct answer is "call them back," and failing that, text them "call me."

If that doesn't work, you know that your communication styles are incompatible. But that is very much on you as much as on them, and getting frustrated or passive aggressive or resentful about it isn't going to do anyone any good.

I'd take a long hard look at your categories, boundaries, and inflexibility here. Anecdotally I think you're on the losing end of a battle where the vast number of people prefer communicating via text, and what you consider "efficient" comes across as rude or terrifying to them.

If I could make everyone conform to my communication standards I would be able to write emails consisting of multiple topics and paragraphs that would then be read thoroughly and responded to point by point. In the real world most people I interact with will skim the first sentence and fire off a response. I would vastly prefer a phone call to text or email about 20% of the time - the rest of the time I actually don't find it more efficient, since I'm usually communicating with more than one person.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:49 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]

Here's a solution that may work from your end, but might be more involved than you hope.

Download an app called Thrive Away.

It allows you to sort of "log off" your phone for a specified amount of time. While you're logged off, anyone who texts you will get an autoreply telling them you're offline. You can also whitelist certain callers so that their messages do come through regardless of you being logged off -- meant for emergency contacts. This is how the app is supposed to work.

However, you could just set the app to log you off permanently and then whitelist everyone in your address book EXCEPT for the people you don't want to text. They will then get your autoreply message telling them they need to call you.

HOwever, that is extreme.

I would probably just tell those people that you no longer text. Then, in your texting app (for instance, Textra), just blacklist their number. They'll still be able to text you but your phone won't notify you (and won't autorespond to them).
posted by dobbs at 6:52 AM on March 18

Oh, it looks like there are specific autoreply apps. Note: I have not tried them.
posted by dobbs at 6:54 AM on March 18

Lastly, you might find it easier to text from your computer. I suck at typing on my phone's screen so text from a computer using (requires Googles SMS app) or Join, which is harder to set up but works with any texting app.
posted by dobbs at 7:05 AM on March 18

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