Texting a Complicated Form of Communication

At least one editor texts way too much.  Courtesy of Caitlin McCown.

At least one editor texts way too much. Courtesy of Caitlin McCown.

I wait. I wait. It’s on silent. That way there’s hope. At least a little. The screen is face down. Maybe when I turn it over the little red light will blink its happy little blink. Maybe not.

I feel exactly like Jacinda Barrett in the 2006 film “The Last Kiss” waiting for an unfaithful Zach Braff to at last contact me and stop fooling around with slutty Rachel Bilson. I want that text. I want it bad.
I never thought I would join the texting mafia. I don’t remember that much about high school, but I do remember being a lame, technophobic self-styled Luddite. I looked down on all the sweating masses of Jersey Village High – what with their pithy abbreviations, erotic one-liners and lightning fast thumbs.

I was a real jackass back then. I guess I still am, but whatever. I never thought a little screen would hold such sway over my whole life. Boy, was I ever wrong.

I didn’t really start using texting until college. And here, I began to think about it honestly. In high school, I was an awkward closeted kid who had trouble making and keeping friends.

Now, as an  undergrad, I have a social life that consists of more than sitting in my room alone and listening to Public Radio and Bjork albums. I have important inside jokes to repeat with 26 of my closest friends. I have meaningful dinners at Chili’s to coordinate. I have rumors to spread.
Sometimes I feel like I have a tiny 24-hour postal service in the front pocket of my jeans. I can reach anyone, anytime, always. I feel closer to people, and I hope they feel closer to me. Unless I said something mean about them. In that case, they can stay away.

Usually a feeling of alienation invades my relationships with other people, but 160 character messages help to lessen that feeling. They let me build a real, if somewhat disingenuous, construct of my interactions with friends and others.

And I get to be extra nosy. And I really, really love being nosy.

But texting can be hell – the waiting. The agonizing, tortuous waiting that makes me want to scream. But when the wait is over that little flash of light is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.

If you go for annoying metaphors (like I do) texting can be seen as a microcosm for human relationships. It’s got the same pain intermixed with ecstasy. It’s confusing and gets muddled through its inability to communicate clearly. I could extend this further, but that would be really boring. We can’t go back to life without texting, and it would be ridiculous and awful to even try.
In short, texting, more than any other activity, makes me feel most like myself: simultaneously mopey and chipper, and gossipy. All the time. Always.

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