Textual harassment

Drunken texty-thumbs can get the best of anyone. There’s actually an iPhone application that makes you solve math problems in order to determine if you are sober enough to be peppering your contacts with messages at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. Alcohol dissolves some people’s electronic boundaries, giving them the liquid courage necessary to make brazen, outlandish statements from the safety of their pub table to exes who live on the other side of the country. And to do so in a completely abbreviated language that embraces belligerent typos! But we’ve all got that obnoxious friend who soberly (and somberly) abuses the convenience of e-communication. Inspired by textsfromlastnight.com and utterly devoid of imagination, these pests are truly vile.

Have you ever been on a chat service and received “I’m bored” or “entertain me” as a message? Does your blood pressure skyrocket or do you just roll your eyes? I find myself fondling the nearest sharp object.

It seems that people do many things just because they can. Not necessarily because they want to, and definitely not because they should, but because it’s easy and they are in want of entertainment. We are told that technology brings us closer, but there are so many moments throughout the course of the day where I find myself questioning the validity of that. Wondering if perhaps we haven’t complicated things tremendously with everything that texting, for example, cannot convey. Worse than that, I have begun to wonder if we risk losing the ability to be alone.

The limitations of texting are tremendous. I know several couples who have banned it from their relationship completely, based on the ridiculous misunderstandings that lack of tone or context have created. Personally, my biggest complaint arises when interested romantic parties use it as a substitute for actual conversation. It simultaneously expedites and exhausts possibilities. You meet someone, you text zealously for a week or two at most. You meet someone else, the process repeats. At some point, you might find yourself quietly admitting how dull and tiresome this routine becomes. How predictable, no matter how witty or quirky your fellow texter may be at first. It’s like making a beeline for disenchantment.

The advent of sexting has also made said romance-seekers bolder about feeling out their prospects, if you will. A particularly dim-witted bouncer kept texting me photos of what he was making for dinner in an attempt to lure me to his apartment. This went on for weeks. I’d discover little photos of everything from a tiny filet marooned on a giant white plate to a heaping pile of indiscernible casserole, with captions like, “babe just look at what u r missing!” When this did not warrant a response, he got serious. And sent me a photo clearly taken in his bathroom mirror, by himself, of his pale, perplexingly scrawny torso. What he must have thought were G.I. Joe lines were hip bones. The angle at which he had to hold the phone cut his head out of the photo entirely, and created a disconcerting, disembodied torso floating in glare and fluorescent lighting. The effect was eerily similar to something you might find suspended on a meat hook in a slaughterhouse. I was again, not enticed.

There is a fine line between persistent and creepy, and mediums such as texting blur those lines miserably. When you give someone your cell phone number, you are inviting them into your life in a major way. They might catch you in the bath tub, at a funeral, mid-orgasm, or in a potentially disastrous moment of vulnerability. The point is – they are able to catch you any time. What of privacy?

One of my professors used to refer to cell phones as electronic tethers. It was in a class my sophomore year of college, long before texting had become a craze and was built into everyone’s data plan. At that point, it was already annoying that people felt like just because they had the ability to call you at any time, you should be available at any time. Texting, the memo of e-communication, amplifies this sense of urgency to respond. Typically, it’s a quip or a quick bit of info. Meet here, wear this. My attitude toward memos is to discard all things not directly applicable to me. If they can be sent in that format, they can be deemed generally unimportant. If you make me laugh, I’ll probably respond. It could be hours later, though.

Instantaneous communication makes us all feel obligated to respond instantaneously. The pressure I sometimes feel about this makes me grateful for my naturally stubborn streak. Time set aside for solitude is time set aside for solitude. And sometimes those additional portals to the outside world need to be sealed off, too. I don’t need another dingbat bouncer interrupting my cuddle time with Cormac McCarthy, competing against beautifully graphic prose with some unfathomable violence to the English language, like “guuuurl, I been textin you, I been callin you. . . .” Or, if I am really lucky, “my cck is so hard right now.”

Misspelled sexts. Now those—those may actually be worth receiving, considering the delicious mix of shock, horror, and despair they illicit. So my friends, I implore you to think before you text. Before you go shooting your worthless thoughts out to your entire address book. Really, those dumber revelations—you’d benefit from keeping those to yourself. Every time you send one, I assure you that a baby otter dies.

2 Responses to “Textual harassment”
  1. Lindsey says:

    I really wish I would have saved these awesomely horrible texts I got from a wrong number last year.
    I would get these messages late at night from some guy with a really lame sign-off name, something like, “Party Boy” or “Da Man” or something stupid like that.
    The messages asked where I was, why don’t I come over for a party, he’s having so much fun and thinking of me, etc. I ignored them all because they were clearly not meant for me and I didn’t care.
    Then I got the “Why R U ignoring me?” text and when I replied with, “Because this is the wrong number” he debated with me! “You know who I am, girl!”
    I had to break it to him that maybe, just maybe, someone gave him a fake number because they didn’t want to hear from him. It was hilarious because not only was he texting the wrong person, but his stellar human being’s texts clearly revealed he was cheating on his girlfriend, or trying to, with a person who gave him a fake number.
    Just amazing.

    Love the piece, Teal!

  2. Angela Vasquez-Giroux says:

    This makes me wanna text you, sugar.

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