I Don’t Heart Texting
A study was just recently released that pointed to a marked increase in the phenomenon known as “texting while driving (DWT).” For anyone who thinks that talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous, DWT is obviously far worse, since you have to stop looking at the road to actually punch in letters or to read. To say it upfront — I think this is supremely stupid, if not dangerous to the other people on the road. But right here I’m more concerned to say a few things about texting in general, or the marked increase of it, or what I’ll call “texting while living” (TWL). I’ve got to be honest: I just can’t figure out what the appeal is.
It could be that I’m just getting old. Maybe I’m just starting to talk like that old curmudgeon who prattles on about “the good old days” when things were wholesome and authentic, and so on. After all, I do remember moaning about cell phones ten years ago, and how they were making intrusion into life more and more common, and how they seemed to encourage us to make connections with others much more frequently than usual, although always in a blatantly superficial manner. I have a cell phone, I can’t lie, but I don’t necessarily think that these things didn’t happen (not that I think cell phones are evil, or can’t have good uses).
Now texting is here and seems to me to be the “next generation” of that deep desire for superficial connection. But unlike the cell phone, where at least you could have an actual conversation, texting doesn’t allow for it. All you hope to get are short one sentence conversations full of numbers and abbreviations, almost like a butchered conversation held by telegraph. I think this is what I don’t get. Conversation by texting is entirely inane and vacuous. It just can’t be much more — it takes too long to actually type out an actual meaningful sentence (hence the abbreviations).
So why do people love it so much? So much so that they text while driving – and ridiculously dangerous endeavor? I’m led to believe that we are breeding a generation of human beings who are addicted to human contact and attention from others. It doesn’t have to be meaningful. It just has to be repeated — over and over again. People just want to be reminded that “the others” are always right there — just in reach — whenever I want. Facebook (or Myspace) is no different; the constant need for “status updates” and wall posts and group joining and so on. Hell, even blogs like this one fall prey.
In fact, I was in the phone store the other day trying to get a new cell phone. The guy kept pushing these 300 and 400 dollar phones in my face, saying “these are the best for texting.” I said “but I don’t text.” He was literally taken back, as if he’d met a walking contradiction. “You don’t text?” he seemed to be saying with his look of disbelief, “then what the hell do you want with a cell phone?” Of course, he figured that if I didn’t text, I’d surely want a phone that allowed me to surf the internet. “Not for me,” I replied, “I surf at home. For me the cell phone is just for talking to people, like what phones were originally intended to do.” “Oh” he snickered, “then you really want this phone.” He slid over a plastic piece of crap towards me with a real look of disdain on his face. I thought he might want to wash his hands afterwards to get the impurity off.
This is all getting crazy. C’mon — texting is nuts. Has anyone had an even marginally meaningful text conversation? Do you have to text you friend in class? Is it that hard to be alone for a while? Do you have to text in the car while driving, putting your own life and that of others at risk, just to say “LOL” or “Me2” or “Prolly CU2 there”? Is it just a hopeless addiction to attention getting that can’t be licked? Can’t we just stick with using phones as phones?
Am I just old? Or is there something strange here?