Friday, February 06, 2009

COLUMN: Texting

I can't believe I'm about to start a column with these words. It's an urge I've resisted for a couple years now, but I don't know how much longer I -- oh, jeez. Hang on just a second. I'll be right back --


-- Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. Now that I'm the ripe old age of (gulp) 38, I can officially say it. They may revoke my Immaturity Club membership badge for this, but, seriously,


I've always been fairly equal opportunity when it comes to the age of my friends. I hang out with friends in their 40's, their 30's, their 20's, and -- mostly thanks to my unhealthy obsession with Guitar Hero and Rock Band -- I even hang out with teenagers now and again.

It's never really phased me. I mean, clearly I'm not the most mature looking or acting guy on the planet. When I tell people my real age, jaws often hit floors. Right now, I like to think of it as a gift -- but I know one day it'll just be pathetic. Let's face it, no one wants to see a white-haired dude hobble into a dance club and get jiggy with it. Conversely, though, a white-haired dude who can step into a DJ booth and break off a Lil' Wayne remix on the fly is a guy with the serious potential to ride that novelty train right into cash cow territory (DJ Grandpa is my retirement plan.)

But since I'm the most immature human being I know, I've yet to reach that phase where I feel awkward or out-of-place hanging out with a table of 20-somethings. Well, I never USED to, at least. The other day, though, I was doing just that -- chilling with a group of 20-somethings, and know what? After about 15 minutes, my blood pressure was through the ceiling and I wanted to sit 'em down and give 'em an epic lecture. You know, the kind of lecture that starts with phrases like, "Why, back in MY day" and hopefully involves a story about walking somewhere through a mile of snow.

So what got me all riled up? CELL PHONES. This next generation is officially too phone-happy for my liking.

The entire time that I sat at the 20-something table, there wasn't a single phone-free moment. At any given second, someone was either talking, dialing, or texting someone somewhere. At one point, I'm pretty sure one of them was carrying on four separate conversations AND checking their Facebook account all at once.

Now, this is not to say that I'm immune from hi-tech gadgetry by any means. I recently accomplished my New Year's Resolution and upgraded myself to an iPhone. I won't pretend it's not fun. I can make calls, play games, take photos, and listen to music with just one sweep of a finger. If I wanted to, I could even write and submit this entire column from my iPhone.

But I won't. Why not? Because telephones are for talking, NOT typing. I've never understood the appeal of text messaging. It's silly, it takes five times as long as talking, and anyone over the fetal stage is clearly too large to operate the microscopic keyboards that come on today's phones. Why, back in MY day, if you wanted to send a text message, you wrote it on a piece of paper, folded it down the middle, then folded the top half at an angle, then folded the bottom up, then again, then again, then tucked in the flap and then handed it to Jenny to hand to Tim to hand to Alicia to hand to Jill. Presto, text message sent. And guess what? It was EASIER.

My generation has the fortune to know HOW to text message and the good sense NOT to unless it's important. One look at my cell phone history and you can almost tell the ages of the senders. My older friends text things like addresses, times, and reminders. My younger friends send texts that usually start, "DUDE. IM SO BORED. WHAZZUP WIT U?"

Nothing weirds me out like hanging out with someone who's a habitual texter. Like, when you're in the middle of a conversation and suddenly a phone gets pulled out, what's the correct etiquette? Should party #1 stop talking until party #2 is through typing?

Worse yet is a friend of mine who has their text message alert set to the first four notes of Beethoven's 5th. So whenever he gets a new text? Duh-duh-duh-DUH. At least every five minutes. Duh-duh-duh-DUH. So help me gosh, it's only a matter of time before I duh-duh-duh-destroy his phone to a pulp.

Perhaps the ADD-experienced younger generation have evolved to the point where they can text, talk, watch a movie, and calculate their taxes all at once. As for me, I tried to answer a text the other day while driving to work and darn near collected a utility pole in the process. ("DUDE! GUESS WHT? IM N THE HSPTL! SRY CANT TXT COZ IM IN A COMA! GTG! TTYL!")

Recently there was an article on the news about a teen girl who racked up 14,528 text messages in one month. Insane, right? When I bought my iPhone, the sales guy put me on a plan for 1200 text messages per month and I thought it was ridiculous. Turns out last month I sent out 891 of those bad boys. That makes me 16.31% insane, 74.25% ridiculous, and 100% hypocritical. It seems maturity evades me yet again. Ah well, got to go. Err, I mean, GTG.


Josh Self said...

Great article! I think you inspired me to do a blog about mobile etiquette. Check out my geek blog The Horse if you get a chance. I'm following you through Google Friend Connect FYI... Hit me back a comment if your bored!


blog author of Ungrateful Bliss said...

LOL. Can totally relate. Love the ease of your writing.
I used you cell phone pic, Photoshopped it and linked back to you. I'm going to follow your blog now too.