I changed jobs last September and had to turn in my company cell phone. Since then I went without one–it seemed like an added expense I just didn’t need. Can I tell you how many people were shocked by this? You don’t have a cell phone? was all I heard, like I didn’t have indoor plumbing or microwave popcorn. The truth is, I rarely used the phone when I had it. It was a Blackberry, and I never really learned how it worked. When I handed it in I found 3-month old messages on my voicemail. But recently I broke down. I bought a basic, app-less phone that isn’t linked to the Internet. It does, however, slide open to a mini keyboard for texting. And this is something I am trying to do. But with great ambivalence.
I think texting, for someone who is already a complete lunatic when it comes to writing, is a nightmare. Should I use initials and texting lingo? Will I look too immature if I do and if I don’t will I look like a snob? How long is too long? Should I be funny? What if she saves it? What if she doesn’t? What if it goes viral? What if it doesn’t? Can a text even go viral? How much rewriting is considered overboard? What if no one likes my texts? Madness.
My first text was to my15-year-old daughter who belly laughed because I wrote OMG (it’s in the OED AAMOF). The first time someone sent me an email with LOL I thought she meant Lots of Love and I hardly knew her and got very nervous. Someone sent me an email with LMAO and my daughter was too embarrassed to tell me what it meant (I had to ask my 30-year-old niece). Today, I got an actual text from a grown up (and not just my daughter’s friends welcoming me into the 21st century). She wrote TTYL. I was stymied. It took me 5 minutes to figure out Talk To You Later. I had conflicting emotions. This is a waste of time, this is so cool, will I start talking like this, should I immerse myself among other texters like people learning a foreign language, can I take anyone seriously who types hag1 for Have a Good One, which makes me think that I actually say Have a Good One and it sounds as stupid as hag1.
I guess, the bottom line for me is that texting is writing in its own weird way. And so naturally I bring to it the same old writing baggage. Email is like this–although I’ve gotten better and won’t reread and edit more than 3 times now before I hit send. You must be thinking, how the hell does this woman ever write this blog? Is it a full-time job? Far from it. I find there is some kind of succinct time pressure for me with the blogging. I am less likely to edit–more likely to treat this like a journal rambling. Of course I spell check. You would think I was 12 if I didn’t spell check. But in general, I let it flow. There’s a lesson there, yes? I’m not 100% sure what it is, but if you figure it out, don’t text me!