I’m not the most technology friendly person. I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m a terrified old man who sees technology as a sign of the coming apocalypse. But I’m not that big on some technological advantages. Smart phones? Don’t like ’em. Kindles? Don’t like ’em. Print publications moving online? Against it.

I think the convenience these things bring to our lives is coming at too great a cost, like our ability to have a conversation without fact-checking on the Internet, our ability to set a meeting place and time instead of going to an approximate location and playing phone tag for fifteen minutes to figure out where everybody is, our ability to navigate from point A to point B using our own wits and sense of direction rather that have some gadget drive us around in a way that makes it impossible to find our way back. Hell, anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t even like voicemail. If it’s that important, call me back when I’m not busy, know what I mean? Thirty years ago everybody was doing it.

But here’s one thing I do like: texting. Texting allows me to have short conversations without picking up the phone — which can be inconvenient and rude in places like restaurants or buses. It saves time. It lets me wait until I’m ready to read somebody’s message — not drop everything I’m doing the moment they call. And while I don’t like it when someone gets a text in the middle of a conversation and stops talking to me, reads the text, texts back and then picks up the conversation as if they hadn’t just made me stand there for forty-five seconds without saying so much as “excuse me a second,” that’s not texting’s fault. That’s just a stupid person using texting wrong. Texting is great. It’s even kind of old fashioned, when you think about it, like the return of the telegram. I like that. What could possibly be wrong with texting?


The number of texts being sent is on the rise, especially among teenagers age 13 to 17. According to Nielsen, the average teenager now sends 3,339 texts per month.

Nevermind, I take it all back. Texting is evil. And I really am a terrified old man who sees technology as a sign of the coming apocalypse. I’m gonna go buy more canned goods now.

Leave a comment! How crazy do I sound to you?

10 thoughts on “Texting

  1. You don’t sound crazy. 🙂 It’s funny – I feel the same way you do re: a lot of technological “improvements”. I hate ebooks, I don’t use my phone for anything other than MAKING PHONE CALLS (I know, right?), and I agree that a lot of this stuff is just making us more incapable as people. We’re all going to be those fat people floating around in chairs eating and watching TV all day like in Wall-E one day.

    But I’m not a fan of texting for the same reason why you’re for it, it seems. It allows for a conversation without actually having a conversation. I LIKE conversations. It’s why I’m a fan of social media stuff like Twitter, or Facebook, or Gchat. If you can’t talk to someone face to face, these options are more fluid and feel more like actual interaction with other humans, as opposed to texting which 1)costs minutes/money/whatever 2) is at the mercy of your service and/or if the person you’re texting has service. At Comic Con, I would text people I was meeting up with, and they didn’t get my text until an hour later or something because the spot they were standing in didn’t have service. And by the time they got my text, I’d already moved from the spot I told them I was. Texting makes conversations choppy – they’re the real world equivalent of MTV editing. 3) I absolutely HATE when people text me to say things like “K.” I know a lot of people don’t, but I have a pay-as-you-go phone, which means I pay PER TEXT. Texting me to say “K” to something I’ve sent you costs me $0.20.

    This is why voicemail is so important – and I know you hate it. Instead of texting 3-4 msgs to convey all information, one can call and, if the person doesn’t answer, leave all the relevant information at ONCE. Much easier than having to stop and type.

    Texting just seems like a pointless thing for a phone to do. It’s like, a half-assed way of calling someone.

  2. You’re not crazy, but I do offer at least a partial rebuttal.
    I’m not sure why you hate voicemail. How is someone supposed to know when you’re not busy? The whole point is that a person can either just tell you what they were going to, or ask that you call them when you know you’re not busy, and it doesn’t interrupt anything.
    I used to think I didn’t want my phone to do anything but call people, but have since realized just how useful smart phones are. You say we once used our wits and sense of direction to find our way around – I seem to recall we used maps. Now the maps are on our phones. I see this as similar to the idea that we used to memorize everyone’s phone number. We didn’t. We memorized a few, and had the rest in a book.
    Kindles? Okay I’m not a big fan either, but I admit it’s only a personal preference. There are advantages to them: less paper waste, less expense, less space taken up. Still, I prefer smelly old paper – but it’s for emotional rather than logical reasons.
    I have to agree with you on texting. These kids with their stupid haircuts and their crappy music and their not getting off my lawn do it too much. But then they talk too much too. On the other hand, it is useful for (usually) quick, easy communication that’s relatively non-intrusive. Teresa is all kinds of right about crappy service making it useless at times, but then the phone call function doesn’t fare any better in those circumstances. (Once again with the personal rather than logical, I don’t know if anyone else does this – but I tend to save up all my “things that require a real phone call” for one day and then get them all over with at once. If I can just send an email or text, I’m more likely to do it now.)
    To sum this up, it’s true that not all new ways of doing things are better, but the fact that we once did them differently doesn’t make the new method worse.

    • Agree.

      I just wish it was possible to deactivate voicemail entirely. That way, someone would call me, I’d be too busy to pick up, the phone would ring, they would hang up, if it was important they’d call me again later. Most times when people call you, it wasn’t that important.

      It’s bad enough that we carry our phones with us everywhere now, but we’re expected to pick them up every time somebody calls. And if we don’t pick them up, we’re expected to take the time to find out who called and call them back to find out what they wanted. When they’re the one who wants to talk to us. That seems backwards to me. I long for the days when people had a phone on the wall at home and no answering machine. If people wanted to call you they could call and try to reach you. If you weren’t home or if you didn’t feel like answering the phone right that minute, they could take the time to reevaluate if what they had to say to you was important enough to go to the effort of calling you back later. That was a great system.

    • Re: maps. And we used to have to know how to read them. Now, the maps on our phones tell us where we need to go and we follow the purple ball on the map so we know we’re going the right way. We still use maps, but we’ve lost our map-reading skills.

      • The other thing about maps is that nobody every bothered using maps. Maybe in their cars, but not on the street. I have had the experience of being in a city I don’t live in with a person who lived in that city. We wanted to go somewhere. I said, “It’s this way,” because I had paid attention to how we got where we were. They took out their iPhone and spent five minutes trying to get the GPS to pick them up before and then figured out I was right.

        I knew my way around their city better than they did because I don’t rely on an iPhone to assist me.

      • Can’t speak for everyone, but I always use paper maps when I go to a new city. When I was in France, or London, or Barcelona, or even Dublin when I was living there, I had maps in my bag and I knew how to read them.

        If I don’t know where I’m going in NYC, I ask people, and remember the way I came so I can find my way back.

        We’re such old people. But honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to be dependent on a phone to do anything other than talk to people who aren’t in the room with me.

        Then again, one day, they’re going to stop making paper maps all together. I just hope that they’re replaced with something that isn’t dependent on connection with a satellite.

      • It sounds like I’m using the maps on my phone differently than others may be. I still look for streets I’m expecting to encounter and try to pay attention to what I walk past. Do others not do that?
        I mostly use the iPhone because I don’t have a sense of direction and never have. Its route suggestions are usually pretty good here too. I wouldn’t say I’m dependent on it, but it’s nice back up.

      • Weekend before last I picked you up at the bus stop and attempted to drive home without the GPS and got hopelessly lost. We could just as well have used a paper map, but without some sort of help we would have been lost for much longer. I agree with Olga that GPS can help you learn the geography at least as well as a map as long as you’re paying attention.

      • @Ryan
        Actually, I disagree. We knew when we got off the highway that we had taken the wrong exit. If we hadn’t had a GPS I think we would have gotten back on the highway and gone back to the right exit rather than try to find our way using a map.

      • Okay, fair enough, but I still learned about the layout of Dundalk, the suburb we were in. If I did that a couple more times, I could find my way around without the GPS, whereas if I had gotten back on the freeway, I wouldn’t have gained anything at all.

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