Texting didn’t exist when I was younger.
If you wanted to communicate with somebody, you had to send them a telegram, write a letter, telephone, or talk to them in person.
It totally sucked.
Simple questions like “Where should we eat?” often turned into hours-long conversations about the meaning of life. And it was much harder to ignore people’s personal problems when they were standing right in front of you jabbering about them.
I hate talking to people face-to-face. They often have bad breath, and if they get worked up about a hot topic — whether you can get a better 39-cent taco at Taco Bell or Del Taco, for instance — they’re likely to accidentally spit in your face.
It’s particularly bad at work, where my co-workers can walk right up and practically force me to speak to them. There are dark days in the office when I catch gallons of spittle on my forehead, cheeks and eyes. Even — shudder — in my mouth.
Some people talk so much, their spit beads together and forms slimy rivulets that flow down my face and drop off my chin to the floor.
I’m often tempted to put on a burka to keep from getting soaked, not only because spit is gross, but because it’s hazardous to pedestrians. I don’t know if the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracks spittle-injury statistics, but I hate to think about how many people slip in conversational drool every year and suffer disabling brain injuries after hitting their heads on hard floors.
Thank God for technology.
Text messaging was used for the first time in December 1992, when a 22-year-old engineer in England used a PC to send a co-worker’s cell phone the message, “Merry Christmas. I’d like a gift card to Best Buy this year instead of a stupid scarf.”
In 1995, a Finnish company became the first company to offer texting to the general public on cell phones. It was an instant hit there because the emotionally reticent Finns are notoriously shy conversationalists.* Unlike the Swedes, they also have a strong cultural revulsion to being spit on.
Today, texting is as common as breathing.
Americans send 188 billion text messages a month, according to a Pew Institute survey. Young adults are the heaviest users, sending and receiving an average of 88 texts a day, compared to 17 phone calls. I’ve seen entire rooms filled with people ignoring one another while they text, often to people who are in the same room.
It’s a heartwarming sight.
* How do you tell introverted Finns from extroverted Finns? The extroverted Finns stare at your shoes instead of their own shoes while you talk.