Texting: The New Intimacy/Breakdown in Society

(To the tune of “There’s Nothing Like a Dame”): There’s nothing like a text! Nothing in the world.

HOWARD MEGDAL: With the advent of text messaging, all other human communication can be described as superfluous at best and at worst, time that limits man’s ability to be texting.

What experience can’t be enhanced by sending a close friend or romantic partner a text message? Think about the moving story told in The Shawshank Redemption. I could only experience that on an artistic and visceral level. At no point during the film could I text a friend who wasn’t watching, “OMG this film is so great u must see it gtg Brooks is here”.

I don’t understand how a movie can be enjoyed properly without texting during it to let other people know you are enjoying it.

It is no different with sad events throughout history. Everyone says they remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, but through text messaging we all could have instantly registered our feelings on the subjext immediately in 160 characters or less- “Poor Jackie i hope LBJ doesn’t lead us into quagmire i liked JFK’s head better intact FWIW”.

Yet this breakthrough in communication is somehow eschewed at the personal level. There is some artificial construct that people who I suspect are just bitter because they haven’t figured out how to get words like “ostracize” into their T9Word bank that there are some moments too important to leave to texting. My response to them is a simple one: Drop the phonograph needle, grandpa, and embrace the future! LOL

Take your son’s death. How many awkward conversations did you have to endure, explaining the grieving process, letting people know how you planned to soldier on, and seeing how people addressed his untimely demise while avoiding the phrase “crushed by a steamroller.” So much time that could have been spent alone in a darkened room was wasted with face-to-face human contact and hugs. You might as well have been churning butter while wearing a buckle-adorned hat, IMHO.

In retrospect, a simple mass-texted “2Good2B4Got10″ followed by the funeral home address, time and a frowny face emoticon would have covered all your bases.

Likewise, there are still some old-fashioned couples who believe a marriage proposal should be made in-person, on one knee, with a ring-as if the text “Luv me 4ever? June wedding b/c U R gr8!” doesn’t convey the same exact sentiment in a moment you can save forever in your inbox until your phone breaks. You’ll never forget the exact moment the question was sent-or the precise time it was received.

When you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible! So you don’t even need to type out a response- a simple pre-programmed quicktext “Yes, I will marry you” and the romantic experience you always dreamed of finally begins ASAP.

So say goodbye to the waste of time from phone calls, the merciless killing of trees resulting from letters, and the irritating dots and dashes of the telegraph machine. Perfection: thy name is text message. :) TTYL

You rotten kids get off my lawn with your newfangled texting contraptions!

MOLLY SCHOEMANN:

All right, I’m not going to lie.  I send and receive text messages all the time.  I text with friends I see every day, I text with people I haven’t seen in years.  I text about the weather, I text about food, I text about love.

Glad texts!  Mad Texts!  Drunk texts!  Sad texts!

‘Most fun night I’ve ever had!’ texts.

‘Can you believe what he said?!’ texts.

‘I can’t!  I can’t!  I’ll stomp his head!’ texts.

Texting was initially developed as a great way of relaying brief messages to people without being forced to interact with them directly, because really, who wants that? It’s also a good way to communicate with someone who might be in a noisy area and unable to hear you on the phone, or who has somehow discovered a public place left on earth where it is universally unacceptable to talk loudly on your cell-phone. I have to believe a place like that exists. That dream keeps me going.

Texting is also an entertaining way to keep in casual, sporadic contact with friends. It’s fun to get a random message from someone you don’t get to talk to or see often; it means that they are thinking of you and had some free time while waiting in line at the bank. Still, it should be noted that even constant texting is not a substitute for actually keeping in touch in a meaningful way. Those who think otherwise likely have the emotional capacity of a Speak-N-Spell.

Unfortunately, since the popularity of text messaging has grown in the last few years, I have noticed an increasing trend toward the misuse and abuse of this extremely impersonal method of communication.  I am of course referring to the frowned-upon act of texting someone in a situation that would be more respectfully handled either with a phone call, or in person.

As someone who has been mistakenly referred to as ‘homeless’ more times than I am willing to admit (I was once even complimented for having ‘nice teeth, for a homeless girl’), I do not claim to be a master of etiquette—or, clearly, fashion (until fingerless gloves and punched-out top hats come back in style, which in this economy, should happen soon).  But when it comes to the judicious use of text messaging in obviously unsuitable situations, I am beginning to believe that certain standards must be agreed upon and put into regular use by the texting community at large.  Here are a few examples of types of text messages that should nevermore be sent:

The Break-Up Text: Since the dawn of time, people have been trying to weasel out of having to deliver uncomfortable or upsetting news in person.  I read somewhere that stone tablets from ancient Egyptian times were recently found inscribed with hieroglyphs that were roughly translated to read, ‘It’s not you.  It’s me.  You’re great– I’m just going through some stuff right now.  I need to focus on me.’  Both historically and in modern times, there is no excuse for this kind of cowardly behavior.  Break-up texters, take heed.  Your devastating electronic messages are wreaking havoc on your karma.  No matter how casual, secretive or illegal the relationship in question is, if it is to the point where it needs to be definitively ended, then such an ending should be done at the very least over the phone, or maybe with a thoughtful card.  A text message is not the way to handle this, no matter how gently you express your feelings through the tender use of emoticons.

Textin’ 2 Apologize: An apology text, no matter how heartfelt it is, and how many little ‘frowny-face’ or ‘crying-a-tear’ characters you use, is akin to a slap in the face followed by a half-hearted, smirking shrug.  It says, ‘I am aware that I’ve wronged you, but I’m not willing to take more than 10 seconds out of my day to address that fact.  Instead I’m going to assuage my guilt by apologizing with a two-sentence text message. L8R’.  Text an apology if you must, but follow it with an apology to the person for your existence.

The Big News Message: Throughout our lives, if we are fortunate, we will hit many milestones. Some will be large, and others small. It is exciting and important for us to share these milestones with our loved ones. However, no one wants to learn that you are engaged, pregnant or have come out of a ten-year coma from a text-message. (I have a similar beef with holiday greeting text messages. Maybe I’m just a Grinch, but when I get the ‘Merry Christmas!’ text message from nine different friends on Christmas day, deep down I know that each friend has just scrolled through their phone’s list of contacts and checked off a bunch of people to send that one message to. My heart now shrinks three sizes too small when this happens.) In any event, if I’m important enough to you that you want to share your big news with me, share it with me personally. Otherwise, I’ll just figure it out myself by stalking you on MySpace.

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