Saturday, April 02, 2011

13 Pet Peevery Lane

I hate texting.

Initially, I ordered a text messaging package because my adorable niece and nephew refuse to communicate any other way. And, for a long time, I didn't text with anyone other than the two of them. Didn't. Wouldn't. Toh-may-toh, toh-mah-toh.

But then the technology trickled up the age ladder, spreading like cancer, and now everyone's doing it.

And it makes me nuts.


1) I'm slow at it.
Aforementioned adorable niece and nephew find no end to the amusement of watching me try to type out a text message in the time it takes to drive to the Kansas state line. I suspect our text conversations are painful for them as they wait...and wait...and wait for my responses.

2) I like punctuation and correct spelling.
One of the reasons I'm so abominably slow is because I insist on using correct punctuation as well as spelling out every word. I believe the Idiocracy is going to come via a jumble of indecipherable letters and numbers in 140 characters or less. I wonder if the babel fish has access to the Urban Dictionary? I wonder too what the State of the Union address will be like when it's reduced to a single text or tweet incorporating Prince-speak circa 1986.

3) It's impersonal.
Nothing says, "I care" like attempting to have a conversation via text while busy fixing supper, folding the laundry, watching television and having text conversations with multiple people. I've received text messages not meant for me from people trying to do too many things and talk to too many people all at the same time. Awkward.

Additionally, texting is more of a distraction than it is a connection. Rather than spending 15 minutes talking on the phone, giving undivided - or at least minimally divided - attention to someone we care about is much more personal and appealing than a text conversation that can span hours. And a text message, by its very nature, often is a singular statement: "I'm bored. I'm using you as filler until something good happens."

4) It's unreliable.
I recently experienced a stupid argument over the fact that text messages were sent to me but were unreceived by me. I'm unlikely to leave a text not responded to unless the conversation seems to have reached an end so the idea that I would blatantly ignore someone I had no reason to ignore is asinine. And yet, this person hasn't spoken to me even after I pointed this out to him.

5) Predictive technology.
Cheese Fetus. 'nuff said.

6) No language cues other than what's typed.
Much like with e-mail (and, dare I say, blogging) we are reduced to only what is conveyed via the character limitations. No vocal inflection, no visual body language cues to assist us with context, interpretation. We are only given what words are there to be interpreted by subjective brains. And my brain is VERY subjective. How about yours?

Texting has its usefulness. Like, say, Acr0nym texting me with his standard "Five minutes or so..." head's up of his impending arrival. That's useful.

Or to say, "Hey! I was just thinking about you. Talk later?" That's useful...and nice.

Or to say, "Gang's gathering at Gabor's. Get yer butt down here." Useful! And appreciated! And dammit! Why have none of us texted that in awhile?

But what's not useful is having it become the primary means of communication we've apparently assigned it.

I hate it. I'm not good at it. I have a real need for communication and feedback. And I feel as though my life has become a frustrating series of swypos, predictive text faux pas, and misunderstandings.

Give me the old fashioned way of communicating with friends any day...calling cards and coffee. Let me show you you're important. I'm not sure I can do that in 140 characters or less.

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