Cheating! That’s what I like, and it’s what I’m going to do right now. Three months back when I was still writing about Second Life, I tangented on the subject of text-messaging:
Hell, when I first heard about text-messaging, I scoffed. Scoffed, I tell you! I even remember whennish and whereabouts I was: walking down the Embarcadero in 2000 with my supervisor at CNET, a fellow who was much more on top of cutting-edge technology than myself. He was telling me about something called text-messaging, which was either just introduced in American or was about to be, but was all the rage overseas. I was five stubborn years away from even considering a cell phone, and text-messaging sounded like the most impractical thing ever. Words on a cell phone screen? And typing them via the number pad? Puh-leeze. As if.
The obvious punchline is that I’m now a text-messaging addict. A junkie. A filthy carpal-thumbed 160-character whore, I am. I got my first cell phone in October 2005 for use during a well-intended if poorly-attended book tour. (If you ever want to read to six rows of empty folding chairs near the Canadian border, drive to Bellingham, Washington. Builds character.) Empirically speaking I would still be alive right now, but emotionally I suspect the trip would have killed me if not for text-messaging. Waking up to messages from my girlfriend Vash made waking up seem worth the effort at all, and furiously thumbtyping back and forth with a friend during a particularly rough patch somewhere between Portland and Seattle was an excellent outlet.
Damn, quoting myself like that was all meta ‘n shit, wasn’t it? And certainly not narcissistic. It’s all true, though, and the ensuing quarter of a year has done nothing to diminish my love of the textiness.
A lot of people call it impersonal. I think it’s like any other form of communication: it’s as personal as you care to make it. Some of the coldest, most meaningless conversations I’ve ever had have been face to face, and I’ve been known to get teary standing on a streetcorner clutching my vaguely communicator-esque phone, SMSing away. (Last Saturday night around half past ten at Church and Market in San Francisco, dressed in black, long blonde pigtails, smeary eyeliner? That was me.) Language is too powerful to be entirely stymied just because it’s on a screen 1.25″ wide and 1.5″ tall. If they have a personal context, the word no can be devastating or yes uplifting or vice versa no matter how they’re conveyed.
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