My husband and I are trying to improve our texting skills. We know in a few years, the English language will be nothing more than a cage-match free-for-all of phonetic grunts and pound signs, and we need to prepare. We don’t want to end up in some dystopian, Logan’s Run type future where everyone who can’t type “Where are you?” with 4 letters or less is considered obsolete and expendable.
I grew up cursing spelling and grammar, but the stuff is hard to unlearn. I keep stubbornly tapping out “Y-O-U-(where’s the damn apostrophe??! oh, right, shift… got it…) -R-E” while the world taps UR and dashes by, LTAO at me. And not only is my brain rebelling against this verbal shorthand; my stubby little paws have turned traitorous as well. Typing with my thumbs is just not natural, not even for a girl who spent a large portion of her childhood with an Atari joystick fused to her left hand, rapid firing at 2D asteroids.
There are unknown dangers in Older Person Texting (OPT, not to be confused with OPP, with which you may be down). To put it simply, we can get ourselves in a lot of trouble trying to be hipper than we actually are.
Just ask my husband, Mike, who nearly got us both arrested using only his thumbs.
It started innocently enough. While watching a baseball game on television, Mike remembered that our 12 year-old niece had tickets for that day’s game. She sat with her father, somewhere behind home plate. Mike scanned the crowds, pausing on every good camera angle, until finally he spotted her. Having recently purchased an iPhone, Mike announced “I’ll text her!” imagining with glee all the “cool uncle” points he would score. I nodded, thinking nothing of it. Like a woman investigating a weird noise in a dark basement during a mysterious power outage, I was oblivious to the danger.
Mike found his phone and started tapping away. He used only his thumbs, and grinned smugly in my direction. He knows that I, like some prehistoric animal, still use my index finger to type.
A moment later, Diddle-BOOP! Incoming message.
Our niece texted back “hi,” along with some other gibberish I currently have Indian Wind Talkers decoding, and then sent a photo of the baseball field from her point of view. Mike and I dropped everything and dreamily discussed all the times that sort of amazing technology could have been used during our long-ago young lives, for better or for worse. Then Mike typed back his exciting news:
“Im watching u, I can see where u r sitting”
He used partial Textese, demonstrating his evolving skillz. He could hear the Cool Uncle Points (CUP) racking, like a pinball machine chiming a high score.
We marveled at the adorable little iPhone text message bubbles, giggling. Texting was like talking. Only infinitely cooler.
“Wot?” said a new message.
“I can C U,” responded Mike, assuming the parts he’d originally typed in correct English were not recognized by Alex’s much cooler phone.
Mike received a new text, but this one came from someone he didn’t recognize.
“WHO IS THIS?” said the message.
We barely had a moment to ponder to whom this angry new text bubble might belong, before a deluge of bubbles popped and dinged across the screen.
The blood drained from Mike’s face. We were receiving emails from many new people. They all wanted Mike to identify himself.
Specifically, they wanted him to tell them why he was talking to their daughters. When our niece sent the picture of the baseball field, she sent it, not only to her Cool Uncle Mikey, but also to a handful of her friends. Mike had then replied to ALL.
Mike had typed “Im watching u, I can see where u r sitting” to a gaggle of 12 year-old girls.
Mike’s phone rang. We froze. Text threats were cartoonish. Phone ringing brought the outpouring of righteous parental anger into a world we understood.
Mike answered, and talked down a very angry gentleman intent on finding him for the purposes of face smashing. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, we fielded a few more angry parent calls and texts. We assured everyone that there had been a horrible mistake. Convincing them all that we were just a couple of idiots was disturbingly easy.
We need rise to this texting challenge if we’re going to survive in this brave new, if practically illiterate, world. I read they are remaking Logan’s Run. Producer Joel Silver (age: 52 – TRAITOR) thinks a movie about everyone over 21 being executed seems like a good idea again.
Coincidence? Maybe. But I’d start stretching those thumbs if I were you.