Or, more specifically, the horrors of texting. When I avoided texting throughout most of high school, I began to feel rather deprived and put-upon, though I also took a strange bit of pride from my own technological backwardness. I thought "Haha, world! Look at me ignoring you! I will chop my own wood, I will write with a quill and ink, and I will not use this newfangled communication called texting!!!"
Sometimes, even now, my weird friends think I'm odd.
Anyways, I finally got into texting when Mom put us on a phone plan that offered that feature, and I was quickly hooked. However, just because something is addictive, doesn't means it's good for you.
That might sound obvious, but if it was such common sense knowledge, there would be fewer addicts, wouldn't there? Hm.
Once I began texting, it didn't take me long to stumble across many of the pitfalls that obstructed my path. Some have swallowed me whole, while others have merely damaged me, so that I will never fully recover. I have no doubt that many of you are also limping veterans of this ridiculous innovation, but who doesn't want to read another rousing rant to solidify his or her sense of disgust with the whole thing?
Besides, ineffectual diatribes are kind of my thing.
When I was younger, I found the word "ain't" impossible to resist. My mother had, and will always have, very strong faith in the power of proper grammar, so I was definitely used to being corrected, but "ain't," my dear friends, "ain't" was in the dictionary. At least, I'd heard from somebody once that it was. Therefore, though it smacked of disrespect for the English language, and made me sound something like an old farmer, I used it as much as possible, and my mother was powerless to stop me. Powerless!!!
Now that I'm older, and my ideas for power trips are more creative than "being incorrect on purpose", I've taken a lot of pride in my ability to use proper grammar, and spelling, and punctuation, when trying to convey messages to the rest of my species. This means that I never speak in a way that will require me to distinguish between "who" and "whom," however, because I am still too lazy to figure out how to do that correctly. Still, this small weakness leaves me leagues ahead of many people who are also trying to communicate, especially via text.
For my favorite example of a texting FAIL, read this entry on failbook.org: http://failbook.failblog.org/tag/lashonda/
Though it's not technically texting, people treat it like it is, and many people update Facebook from their phones, so I'm counting it.
The language used in that exchange is so childish, so stereotypical, and let's face it, so hard to decipher, that it's no wonder people are having so much trouble connecting these days. And, sadly, it is not limited to high-larious websites. It is real. It is among us. It cannot be stopped.
--And so, it's time for my version of a PSA.
--Simulated Conversation. (Do Not Attemp This Conversation At Home, Or You Might Get Smacked Upside The Back Of The Head)
Me: Hey there! What are you up to today?
Other: Ooo, nm. Just chillin wit my besties.
Me: Oh, that's god.
Me: I mean, that's good. (Note my courteous correction of my own stupid-sounding mistake. Obviously this person is not a god, or at least not a god of communication)
Other: Lol that was funny lol. What you doin'? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? lol
Me: Well, I'm just hanging out before class. I got some pizza from the cafeteria, and I'm enjoying the sunshine.
Other: Cooool. So, didn I tell u bouttt my stoopid bf? He was so dum. He totes was kissing sum othr bitch and he didnt think I wud find out.
Me: That's...too bad, I think. If I understand you correctly. Um, I'm going to head towards class. I hope your day gets better.
Other: Wut u mean, u think? This bs is sh*%t!
Other: Bitch, what u sayin? Aftr all thas happnd to me 2day, and u just gunna talk rude? Fine fine, I see u latr.
Me: la;lk dlfjaiojadsj##$%
Other: Oh, THAS how it is...
Me: Sorry, sorry, a squirrel grabbed my phone! What on Earth did it text to you?
Other: Oh, nvm. U wouldn unnerstand.
--Obviously, Other is easily angered, but I'm aware that this sample is not representative of all people who use abbreviated texting. Other could be a truly thoughtful, intelligent, and respectable person. However, this style is still infuriating, and for no reason that you can really articulate to the other person.
Me: Hey, I hate you right now because you can't speak/text correctly!
Other: Wut? Wut u sayin? Wut about my perrrsonalety? Doesn hellp?
Me: Nope. Your personality will not save you. I despise your very essence.
Other: okkkkk :( Not lol.
And then I just feel terrible. So, if you do read this article, don't text me like that. If you don't read it, then it doesn't matter, and I'll just keep tolerating your sad attempts at conversation, struggling to like you anyway.
2. The Failure to Deliver
Some phone services are, of course, better than others. However, that really doesn't explain why certain chunks of a text message can be sent, while others fail to reach their target.
I have considered the idea that some texter might do this to me just to mess with my mind. I have any number of friends and family who are devious and witty enough to do that. But, it happens often enough in situations that aren't particularly funny, that I think it must just be a glitch. Unfortunately, if you didn't know that such fails were common, you might be in for a world of confusion and possible anger.
Me: Boy, it really ticks me off when people tell me how womanly I'm being, when I think slaughtering animals for sport is cruel.
Other: Well, maybe if you'd get back in the kitchen, and quit going out and bothering people with your opinion, you wouldn't have to get all weepy and pathetic--
(A few minutes pass)
(A few more minutes)
Me: You are SERIOUSLY going to say that to me?
Me: Oh, that's just rich. I thought you were better than this. I might just have to mention to your mother that you feel this way. Or, better yet, I'll mention to MY mother what you just said, and I'll hold her coat while she beats the snot out of you.
Me: How would you feel then, huh? You misogynistic bastard.
Other: --...lol, hope you caught the sarcasm, I was laying it on thick enough.
Me: Wait, what?
Me: I'm so confused.
Other: Me, too! Why are you yelling at me???
Other: Dude, what the hell? Now you can't handle a joke?
Me: Uhh...gargle snarf yack! Huff huff, whew! Oh, man, so glad I got my phone back from that random homeless person. Boy, she sure texted mean, undeserved things to you. I'm gonna go hide in a hole now...I mean go to work! Bye!
See what I mean? Partial text messages could start wars, or at least get you the cold shoulder. This is especially the case in a burgeoning romantic relationship, which is always fraught with potential pitfalls anyway. TEXTING IS POISON FOR ROMANCE. And this is never more apparent than when the next pitfall occurs.
3. Delayed Text Relay
This one can happen from either end of the texting conversation, with surprisingly similar results. There's just something about taking a conversation, and making it REALLY SLOW, that tends to make people feel insecure. Or maybe it's just me. Either way, I am consistently plagued by the inconsistency of texting.
Sometimes texts go through just fine. Other times, they get sent hours after they're supposed to, or even not at all. And the best part is, you can never be sure what exactly happens, once you push the send button. You just get to sit there and wonder.
Me: Hey there :D How did your day go? I was thinking about you...
Other: Hey, you :DDD My day is going great, now that I'm talking to you
Me: Ah, that's so sweet! Hey, do you want to get together later, for coffee maybe?
(15 minutes pass. I feel the first tingling of doubt. Maybe my message just didn't go through.)
Me: Or...we could go bowling? Catch a movie?
(30 more minutes pass)
Other: Yeah, that sounds like fun!
(I wait about 30 minutes to reply, just so Other doesn't think I'm being too eager. Or clingy. Or something.)
Me: Okay, well, then we need to decide on a place to go. What do you want to do? :)
(An hour passes. Is it possible that Other is operating on the same waiting principle that I am? I don't like this game. Other is being stupid)
Me: Hello? What are we going to do?
(Another hour passes. Now I'm getting mad. How hard is it to just reply? My messages have obviously been getting through. Maybe my texting service is being slow? Maybe I'm being too forward? Maybe aliens are intercepting my communications???)
Me: If you don't really want to go, we don't have to. I'm not trying to pressure you.
(Being mad, I don't want to wait as long. Other had BETTER start replying quick)
Me: Fine, we won't go.
(Other will probably feel guilty. We'll still go.)
Me: I'm serious
(I wasn't before, but I am now.)
Me: Alright, you're just being an ass. Seriously, what are we even doing? Do you want to be a part of this relationship, or not?
(I let another hour pass, because that was a pretty serious ultimatum. It's time to deal with the heat or get out of the kitchen.)
Me: Fine. Fine. I don't know what I did, but you just text me sometime when you figure it out. I'm going to go hang out with my friends, since you obviously don't care. F*%#k you.
(Another hour passes. Finally, a reply.)
Other: Oh my gosh, my phone died, and I couldn't find the charger! And then, I had to go to work.
(I now realize that there are other options besides "faulty text service" and "ignoring me." I get the first inklings of shame.)
Other: Okay, so obviously I pissed you off, but we could still go. Look, I'm seriously sorry about not replying! You weren't replying very quickly either, so I didn't know it would be such a big deal!
(And, now I'm too embarrassed to even reply. Better to quit while I'm not as deep in the hole as I could possibly be.)
Other: Well, I hope these messages are getting through. Sometimes texting fails, or the messages just don't send for a while. Call me when you get this.
I will not be calling, at least not now. Another imaginary relationship damaged, perhaps irrevocably, by the follies of texting.
I knew the possible problems when I started texting in high school, but I never realized that A) texting would be addictive, and B) that addiction would not wane as texting became more irritating. My friends tell me there are now services that are more reliable in sending the entire text message, and even ones that will tell you when a text message has been read, so you truly know if you're being ignored. However, I will probably not get these services until the rest of the world has joined some sort of psychic network.
But I will laugh, when no amount of technological advancement can truly eliminate text speak. So there. Ha.