For my daughter’s 15th birthday last week, her present from her mother and I was a new phone.
That evening, she went to spend the night with a friend and I called her. All I needed to tell her was what time I was going to pick her up in the morning. I called. No answer. I called again five minutes later. Of course, being the father of a 15-year-old girl, I immediately suspected hijinks afoot, so I called the house where she was spending the night.
“Oh, yeah, she’s here,” said the girl’s mother. “She said to text her.”
It was her birthday, so I obliged. So for the next five minutes, I attempted to text her.
It took five minutes because I had to switch keyboards four times to type this simple message: “I’m coming to pick you up at 9. Is that OK?” And every time I tried to type an M or use an apostrophe, I ended up deleting a word.
So, in summary, an old-school phone call with the same simple 11-word message, including pleasantries such as “Hello” and “Goodbye,” would have taken about 15 seconds. Just my part of the text message took five minutes. That, in a nutshell, is why I’m sticking with real phone calls instead of texting: Time.
Texting simply takes too much dang time. With a 40-hour-a-week job, a 20-hour-a-week family, 25 hours a week of cable television, 12 hours of sleep a night and another two-hour nap each day, I just don’t have a couple of hours a day to be wasting fiddling around, punching a bunch of buttons to communicate when I can do it more efficiently by grunting into a telephone for a few seconds. That’s Reason No. 1.
Here’s two more reasons why I’m going to continue to be an old fuddy duddy and refrain as much as humanly possible from texting:
Reason No. 2: Autocorrect.
My wife’s text to me, when I’m at the grocery store: “Remember to pick up some tampon sauce.”
Huh? Tampon sauce?
Which goes back to Reason No. 1: Time. I spent 15 minutes wandering around the grocery store, looking for tampon sauce.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said to the grocery store lady after perusing every aisle in search of this mysterious item. “Where do you keep your tampon sauce?”
A simple return phone call revealed that my wife had typed in taco sauce, and autocorrect led to my humiliating turn of events.
Reason No. 3: Confusion.
Because it takes so long to type, text messages often use acronyms or skip letters or verbs or adjectives or nouns or entire paragraphs, which leads to confusion, assumption, the swine flu and misunderstanding.
My daughter’s text message to me from last week: “U no password to computer.”
My reply: “One password to computer? Why are you speaking Spanish?”
Her: “I no there’s 1 password. what is it.”
My reply: “Speak, or type, English, and I’ll respond accordion.”
My reply after catching the AutoCorrect: “I mean I’ll respond accordingly.”
If history has taught us nothing, and it has, it’s that the written word, especially when broken down into fragments, can lead to peril.
“You are great. One hundred thousand pesos. To come to Santa Poco. Put on show. Stop the infamous El Guapo.”
If the “Three Amigos” had received a phone call instead of a cryptic telegraph, they would have known that El Guapo was an actual villain and not an actor, and Lucky Day would have never been shot.
Basically, that’s what text messaging is: the telegraph. We’re reverting back to communicating via telegraph.
And I’m the old fuddy duddy?
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of the Clinch County News in Homerville. His column appears weekly.