The joy of text
Having just upgraded my mobile phone tariff from a package incorporating 500 text messages a month to 1000 (in order to accommodate my daily text marathons with a certain P Larkin Esq, you understand), I've decided it's past time I came clean about my texting addiction.
Not everyone from my generation has taken to texting. I know various people of about my age (some of whom have dyslexia, and whose antipathy can therefore be excused) who simply can't imagine why anyone would want to do it. "Isn't it easier to just talk to someone?", they say.
Well, actually, no. It's not.
Now, I'd be the first to admit that I was a late convert to mobile phones and that I still think they're a bloody menace. Although the "bloody menace" aspect of them lies with the people who use them, rather than with the phones themselves. People who compose text messages while walking down busy streets should, in my humble opinion, be strung up. It's hard enough for me to negotiate crowded areas even if everyone else is watching where they're going: it's damn near impossible when they're not. And, no, your fellow passengers do not need to be subjected to you yelling , "I'm on the train!" to whomever it is who cannot rest for worrying that you might not be on the bloody train.
Lady Bracknell has perorated in the past about members of theatre audiences who consider themselves to be sufficiently special that requests to turn off mobile phones don't apply to them. When I went to see Brad Fraser's "Snake In Fridge" at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester some years ago, I particularly enjoyed his creative response to the important person problem. In pitch blackness, in a voice like poisoned molasses, he threatened to personally remove and destroy the phone of anyone foolhardy enough to ignore the request to turn them all off. Rarely have I seen so many people reach as one for their pocket/handbag to beat their phones into submission. (Great play, by the way. Don't know whether it's still being produced anywhere, but do go and see it if you get the chance.)
And yes, I do deplore the effect that "text speak" has had on the literacy levels of people in their teens and twenties. Although not half as much as I deplore the education authorities who permit this bastardisation of our fine language to be used in written exams. (It's twenty years since I was a student teacher. Even then, I was advised that making the little darlings correct every "could of" and "should of" stifled their precious creativity. And, as someone who had legitimately lost a mark in her mock RE A level exam for splitting an infinitive, I took this rather ill.)
I never, ever resort to "txt spk" in my own text messages. I just can't bring myself to do it. Knowing this, of course, the Dude fights his own vehement dislike of the phenomenon to compose messages to me including as much text speak as he can possibly cram into one short message. Just because he knows it makes me grind my teeth with rage.
Nevertheless, I love texting. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that texting probably saved my life. When you are dealing with such intense pain that you simply have no energy to spare on talking to anybody on the phone*, sending and receiving text messages has a value beyond rubies. You don't have to sit up. You don't have to change position. You don't have to un-clench your jaw sufficiently to force words out. But you're not alone. No-one can take the pain away from you, or manage it for you, but they can keep in touch and let you know they're thinking about you.
Plus, of course, there's something about the discipline of text messaging which makes communication by text very different from communication by telephone or by email. You've got a strictly finite character limit, so you've no opportunity to waffle. One is forced to be pithy, even if one is not naturally so inclined. They do say that brevity is the soul of wit, and it's not at all unusual for me to fall about laughing at the content of text messages I receive. Yes, even the ones from the Dude. (Drat - now I need to come up with a way of distracting him so that he will never read this post.)
*If you're fit as a flea yourself, it's probably very difficult to envisage having such limited reserves of stamina that talking to people of whom you are very fond on the phone could be exhausting. With the cost of phone calls lower than it has ever been, you may well think that it wouldn't be a problem if you were stuck at home for a while, because you'd be able to keep yourself perpetually amused by phoning everyone you know.
You never have to stop to consider whether the phone call you'd love to make will result in you being unfit to work the next day because it's taken so much out of you. And that's the enjoyable ones. Let alone any where you have to have your wits about you because you're ordering things, or wanting to register a complaint. If your phone rings, you answer it. If my phone rings, I have to try by some intuitive process to work out who it might be and whether I have the strength to talk to that person. I long ago lost any feelings of guilt I might once have had about not answering a ringing phone.
Which brings me neatly back to text messaging which, frankly, could have been designed with the weedy crip in mind. It takes almost no effort, but it brings huge rewards. I love it and I would be lost (or, at the very least, miserably lonely) without it.
So there you have it. My name is The Editor and I'm a text addict.