Okay, okay, okay everybody. I get it. Seriously. I get it. It’s time for me to step up to the plate and admit that I have a problem. My phone sucks and I don’t know the rules of text messaging. But I’m not going down alone… you’re all equally to blame in this and if I’m taking the fall, I’m bringing all of you down with me.
Here’s the deal.
In 2003 I owned one of the hottest toys on the planet…. a sweet black and silver Sony Ericsson T-616 cellphone (part of their 610 series).
It had a real (albeit tiny) joystick, a sophisticated operating system and a full-color screen WAY bigger than any of my friends’ phones. This thing was so far ahead of the curve that only the dorkiest dorks in town owned one. Needless to say that no one in my circle of friends and work colleagues had a phone that could begin to match the things my phone could do.
I’m serious. This was a nifty bit of cellular overkill and I LOVED it.
The T-616 was a miniature computer. It had a camera and it used Bluetooth™ (the usefulness of which nobody seemed to comprehend regardless of how many hand gestures I used to explain the concept of controlling the refrigerator with my cellphone*). That little marvel could do SMS (simple text messages), MMS (styled text messages with images and video)… it was even capable of sending and receiving honest to goodness emails!!
After playing around with the T-616 I was certain that “texting” would be my favorite feature, a certainty which lasted less than a month as that’s exactly how long it took me to realize that the rest of my friends’ phones were as useful as a duck on wheels and that frequent texting was as expensive as a trip to the Gold Room with a stripper, please, sir, don’t touch the boobs.
There I’d be, at a restaurant, on a date, waiting for the girl to return from the powder room. With a couple of glasses of wine in me and a mind for mischief I’d whip out my T-616 and type up a message to a couple of my friends and hit the “SEND” key.
The next day I would get an angry phone call or three.
Blisteringly livid complaints.
“Dude. Stop sending me those damned text message things. I can’t get them. My phone won’t do that. I have to call a special number and get a code from my carrier and then log into a website to see what you sent, and it costs me ten cents every time I have to do that… so stop it. I’m serious.”
(very nearly a direct quote*)
After an intense period of threats and imprecations from these same friends (you people) I stopped sending texts altogether and withdrew to the lowest depths of the Drewcave, where I installed a bunch of dumb games on the phone and started using those to entertain myself whenever I was bored… robbed of the thrill of text messaging by the sheer incompetence of everyone I knew, I allowed my interest to wither and fade.
But in 2005 the price of the Motorola RAZR suddenly dropped and over the course of the year a bunch of my friends (you people) began sending me text messages.
Finally, I had playmates!!
I especially wanted to text some of the girls I knew…but there was a problem.
It was impossible for these girls to carry on a conversation that was anywhere near as sexy and fluid as something you get in an instant message session, chiefly because their phones required them to learn how to use a 12-key number pad to type in words from a 26+ character alphabet.
If you’ve ever tried this you can attest to how indescribably difficult it can be to accomplish, even if your phone uses predictive text input (T-9). Plus, the more you’ve had to drink, the more likely your message ends up resembling a rotor selection code for the Third Reich’s Enigma Engine.
As cool as my T-616 was, it had a clumsy numeric keypad and less storage space than an Atari 800XL (the newer ones). So I kind of thought I was upgrading when I began using a Motorola PEBL a few years ago, but all too soon I realized that it wasn’t really any better.
But I learned it the hard way.
I’d be somewhere, maybe a concert or a hockey game, and in an intense moment of profound emotion I’d be moved to share a thought with one or more of you and would type out a message simmering with wit and verve, heart and soul, only to discover (later*) that you received:
“Hex h?m cr th keeha poemo 9ot fvep say!”
The truth is, I just can’t type on this damned thing.
Now you know the truth. I’m hardly ever drunk, my phone just sucks balls.
But it’s your fault, you know. You people.
If you’d only started texting with me back in 2003, when I was ready to begin, I’d have already migrated to a full QWERTY keyboard phone. I’d be master of a CrackBerry or an iPhone a G1 or a whatever. I’d have thumbs of STEEL.
I’d be a real boy.
It was you, all of you, who held me back.
That’s right, all of you are responsible for retarding my texting growth.
You’ve made me some sad Quasimodo of Texting and I hate you for it.
But there’s more!! My Hugo-esque tragedy has another chapter!!
Among the many assorted elements of texting etiquette (or “Textiquette”) of which I have been pitifully unaware is the fact that there are, in fact, Hours of Operation for text messages which are not, in further fact, the same as emails.
Did you know this?? Why didn’t you tell me? Do you HATE me??
This cardinal rule of text messaging was brought sharply into focus a few weeks ago by two tantalizingly hot, bright and friendly-as-a-puppy 20-somethings, who interpreted an 8am Sunday morning text message from me as the equivalent of a booty call… instead of the friendly (and almost entirely innocent*) salutation it was intended to be.
Imagine my confusion when I received a message which read:
“dude. texts are not accepted between the hours of 1am and 10am unless they are emergencies! but thanks :)”
Please note that this was the exact moment at which I began to understand the profound difference between text messages and emails… I began to understand that text message are not the same as emails and that people who send text messages are expecting immediate replies.
I had been the equivalent of the 1997 AOL user who typed all of his emails in UPPERCASE LETTERS.
I had pooped in the punchbowl of text messaging.
I was a pirate at a tea party with poop on my feet.
I was a n00b.
Oh the ignominy.
Oh the turmoil.
Oh the Passion, theSturm and Drang.
Oh the unexpected junior high school confrontations in darkened IM corridors.
And ultimately: the shunning, the shunning, the shunning.
All because of text messages.
And it’s all your fault, you bastards.
You’ve allowed me become this texty clown.
You juked me into living in the technological backwater of T-9 predictive input.
If you’d only switched over with me in 2003 but….
…look at you now,
with your fancy iPhones and BlackBerrys and Whatsits.
Sending each other texts.
Laughing at me.
Just, look at yourselves. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.
Where were you when I needed you??
Enjoy your newfound technological superiority while it lasts, because it’s about to end.
You’ve awakened a sleeping giant with a nimble set of thumbs.
I’m going to do what I set out to do in 2003 and this time you won’t stop me.
You can’t stop me.
I’ve started shopping for a new phone.
You heard me right. A new phone.
A hot phone, a sexy phone.
A phone with a full keyboard, for texting.
I’m going to learn to text good and proper this time.
I’ll memorize the polite hours of operation.
I’ll use apostrophes and umlauts, circumflexes and diacriticals.
I’ll spell things properly (and improperly per textiquette and cultural mores).
I’ll go slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
I’ll be clever and glib, whipsmart beyond reason.
You’ll thrill to my every text and I’ll leave you wanting more.
Clever girls will sob at the complexity of my mind and dumb girls will send me pictures of their boobs and, best of all, my phone will have enough memory to actually be capable of opening the files!!
No more will you receive messages like:
“Basu 7ar ysu4”
“I#n hbving stbh a goof tine?”
“Haia 8ra naus akawiz yot qtsrz!”
Soon, and very soon, I’ll be able to text with the best of you, and those booty calls?
They’ll be for real.
Oh yes, for real.
Unless of course I’ve had too much beer, in which case you won’t be able to read them.
And I won’t be able to Ya3A#9a???*
(* an early promise of Bluetooth technology)