I was loitering over at Radioactive Jam yesterday, where the Jamster was musing about an epiphenomenon of texting (namely ‘twittering’) and where he posed the following question:

What about you, my feiends? Do you use your phone for text messaging? If so how often, and how many people do you communicate with using text?

Well, for me, that question was like waving a red flag at a bull. Or, to be specific, since we evidently have so many pedants in our midst, like waving a Pantone 032 HC woven textile heraldic banner at a toro lidiado.

Because I absolutely detest texting. To me it seems like a useless 21st Century gimmick that will surely, and quite properly, go the way of CB Radio craze of the mid 1970s*. My reasons are many, and only one of them is because I’m a grumpy old geezer. Here are some others:

1: On a normal keyboard (that is, one designed for human fingers) I’m a pretty fast typist and it drives me absolutely BANANAS to try and tap out messages on those stupid little phone keypads. Especially when it is almost always faster and easier to dial the number and actually talk† to the recipient.

2: Predictive texting doesn’t help matters any. How many times have I sent a message to Violet Towne that says ‘DON’T WAIT FOR OF. I’LL BE GOOD LATE.’ or something equally as baffling. Additionally, the software for predictive texting (on my phone, at least) is written by an insane person. Let me give you an example: recently I was keying in a word, let’s say it was ‘hamster’ (because I can’t remember what it actually was – suffice to say it was a word in fairly common usage as opposed to, oh, quincunx, or something). Anyway I get as far as H-A-M-S… and the phone makes its irritating little ‘ping’ noise and says WORD NOT IN DICTIONARY. OK, so its dictionary doesn’t know hamster or hamstrung, even. Understandable, I suppose, if somewhat moronic. But then one day I find I’ve inadvertently keyed E-X-P-O-N-E-G-F-D-E-R and it’s still letting me merrily type away, with no advisory ‘ping’, as if somewhere, somehow, if I keep on adding on enough letters exponegfder… is suddenly going to turn into a word it retains in its feeble little nano-brain. What the fucking hell is that all about? It’s the kind of thing that can only happen because a mad person is at the controls.‡

3: I have a rare genetic disease¤ that means I am unable to write sentences without using punctuation or correct spelling. This slows texting down by nearly one million percent, because people who write the software for mobile phones are illiterate and don’t care about such things. So if you want to put an apostrophe or semi-colon in your text, you have to first have a Degree in Illogical Thinking to figure out how to do it, and second, spend an extra two minutes actually doing it.

4: Texting is the method nonpareil for avoiding taking responsibility for bad behaviour. Let me draw you a picture (and tell me this has never happened to you): you’ve just spent 30 minutes standing in the rain, chilled to the bone by a raging blizzard, fighting off drunken louts who seem to think they have more right to the taxi that you flagged down than you do, arrived at the cinema for a film that you really don’t care too much to see but which you’re prepared to endure because, well, you’re a good friend and you do that kind of thing, only to have your message alarm make its chirpy little beepity-beep-ta-ping!: ‘SORRY CANT MAKE IT 2NITE CATCH U L8R!!!’†† When you try to call back, the phone goes straight to message bank. C’mon, hands up, who can relate to that? Even more pertinently, hands up who’s guilty of sending that message! Yes, just as I suspected.

Of course, in Ye Olde Days, being stood up in some similar fashion might have easily happened too, but back then we had GUILT™. In this new Age of Instant Communication, the text message somehow allows a weird kind of magical dispensation whereby the fink that ditched you can now be tucked up all warm and comfy on the couch at home with a tub of Cherry Garcia and the DVD Box Set of the Remastered Outer Limits Collector’s Edition and able to enjoy the rest of their evening somehow completely absolved of any remorse!

Because they texted you that they couldn’t make it.**

5: You don’t need even the smallest degree of commonsense to be allowed to use your phone to text. Last week I was traveling back along the airport freeway in the rain when a car just in front of me in the right-hand lane swerved so close that I was forced to slam on the brake to avoid a collision. As I slowed down, thanking the Spaghetti Monster that I was still in one piece, the culprit went weaving back into his own lane, oblivious to what had happened. Yes, you can guess what was going on. Whilst travelling at 100 kilometers an hour on a multi-lane freeway full of cars on a wet night, this idiot was texting someone. Not only that, I bet my entire Spam Fortune (which is quite considerable now – about 120 billion dollars at last count) that his message was something like ‘SORRY CANT MAKE IT 2NITE CATCH U L8R!!!’. This guy was equipped with a car, a phone and the English language, any one of which would been an obvious challenge for him to deal with on an individual basis let alone all at the same time.

Oh, there are many more reasons I could go on with but I’ll give it a rest now. Anyway, I can see you all twitching your fingers there below the table, undoubtedly Twittering something along the lines of ‘REVEREND A WAFFLING ON AGAIN PLUS CA CHANGE PLUS CEST LA MEME CHOSE’

(Does ANYONE see how pathetic and sad that phrase looks without the proper punctuation? Anyone? Sigh. I thought not).


*Most of you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about unless you’re around my age. And there’s a very good reason for that.

†Yes, yes, I know that talking business is SO Last Century.

‡I’ve spoken previously about other aberrant behaviour in the predictive texting of my phone that gives weight to this theory.

¤Its technical name is ‘Education’.

††The multiple exclamation marks are mandatory in cases like this. They do not represent ‘punctuation’ as such, but instead are meant to evoke a sentiment something akin to ‘Oh I’m just SUCH a kooky crazy wacky kinda person and, gosh, life is just so topsy turvy, and like ANYTHING can happen really. Wow! How can you possibly hate me?’

**Seriously, if you ever bother to take the matter up with the fink the next day, the response is invariably one of indignation on their part: ‘What’s your problem – I texted you to let you know!’