I am probably the last person on earth to enter the world of texting. I never really saw the point of it when I could just as easily call and speak my message to someone. These days, I can actually acknowledge that there are some occasions in which texting is more convenient than calling. Not many, but some.
Last night, darling husband and I had a full-fledged texting conversation. I’m not sure why one of us didn’t just call the other, but this turned out to be a prolonged back-and-forth. I was killing time during SuzyQ’s chorus rehearsal, and he was watching Junior’s baseball game. The dialogue went something like this:
Him: “Rain starting again”
Me: “Maybe they’ll just call it.”
Him: “No chance”
Him: “Junior just hit a double!”
Me: “Woo goo!!”
Me: “Oops! I mean woo hoo”
Him: “Junior pitching. Wild again”
Him: “Base hit, man on first”
Him: “Stole second”
Him: “Double play!”
Me: “No way!”
Him: “Yes way”
And so it went through most of the game. Looking back through the series of texts I discovered a few things. First, I’m not good at texting. My touch screen is so sensitive, and I’m so unskilled at typing with my thumbs that I make lots of typos. And I can’t just ignore them. They embarrass me, so I go back and fix them with a follow-up text to make sure the reader doesn’t think I really meant “Woo goo“. Secondly, I can’t bring myself to use “texting language.” All of those little shorthand expressions (LOL, L8TR, U, etc) seem so juvenile, like they are the exclusive language of pre-teens and teens, not for adult usage.
Most importantly, though, I realized how completely unsatisfying the whole conversation was. It’s nearly impossible to convey real emotion–the tension in watching each pitch; the anxiety of willing Junior to get his frustration under control; etc– in so few characters. And those little emoticons are silly substitutes. It just bothers me to get a series of monotone letters instead of a human voice telling me a story filled with detail and spirit. It makes me a little sad to realize that for most teens, this is their preferred method of communication. How will they learn to actually connect with people?
The same can be said about Facebook with its little blurbs of dialogue. One writer posted here about how she felt short-changed by receiving nearly all of her birthday greetings via Facebook. Does a “Happy Birthday” with 10 exclamation points on Facebook equal a phone call in the olden days of verbal communication? Especially when it’s the same message from your sister and your husband’s co-worker’s wife?
Call me a dinosaur, but I’ll never see texting as anything but a communication of last resort. I would even prefer a quick email that at least conveys a sense of who I am and the emotion I want to express. Oh, and a hint to certain readers: a Facebook birthday shout-out in lieu of a call or card is lame!!