Sunday, April 30, 2017

My radical new texting policy


My friend Kevin has a policy that I have recently adopted. I will not carry on a text conversation. Text messages are great for short alerts.

I’m running late. 

I’m at baggage claim. 

I’m pregnant. 

But they’re not designed to replace conversations. After a couple of quick back and forths, if you want to continue to converse with me I will CALL you. You’re obviously there. You just texted me two seconds ago.

Yes, the ability to send text messages that are received instantly is pretty amazing. Clearly, the purpose of human thumbs is to communicate. But even more amazing is that by simply pushing a few buttons you can actually TALK to the person. Imagine, carrying on a dialogue in real time. And hearing the other person’s voice. Not having to decipher what ob meant when the person hit the wrong key. Being able to express a thought longer that a tweet.

Since I adopted this policy, there have been a few times when someone has tried to engage me in a text conversation. So I would call them. And they were always startled. Completely in shock.    It’s like, “Ohmygod, did somebody die?” Has it been that long since people talked to each other that it is now awkward?

So if you want to tell me you’re on your way, your flight is late, or my hair is on fire, then by all means text me. But anything else, let’s talk by smartphone.

If this policy works I then might suggest something really insane – we actually get together and talk face to face. I know.  WTF? 2M2H.

27 comments :

Richard Y said...

I totally 100% agree

David Russell said...

This shocks people I know, too. Basically, after two texts, I call. One of my younger friends (i.e., under 40!) tells me he doesn't even have to look at call display if I call him. I'm his only over 40 friend who actually uses the phone to make voice calls.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I don't operate such a policy because I've learned that you can't tell where someone is when they're texting you, even repeatedly. They may be in a library. Or a bar so loud they can't hear anything. Or on a train, with the signal dipping in and out. Or visiting people who aren't offended by texting the way they would be by a phone call.

On another topic, Ken, I was wondering - call it a Friday question - if you had a take on the suit Harry Shearer is leading (Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner, and Michael McKean have all joined it) over THIS IS SPINAL TAP, which despite being a much-loved, evergreen comedy classic that has sold myriad copies, tickets, and albums over the last 30 years, has paid them a grand total of under $200 in revenues. Bloomberg Business Week has the outline here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-04-20/this-is-spinal-tap-s-400-million-lawsuit. (I may have asked you this before.)

I remember a friend in the music business saying to me that it's a business in which everyone gets ripped off; the BBW article quotes a lawyer who's used to musicians who's shocked by Hollywood's practices. So: in your long career, are you conscious of times where you were ripped off? Was there anything you felt you could do about it?

wg

Jerod Butt said...

I'm almost at the exact oposite side of the issue. I prefer texting, with the obvious caveat that spelling and grammer be intelligible. The occasional typo or syntax error is something I can put up with. If you text me a grocery list, be specific, prepared for questions, or just get it yourself.

Why? Not just because I am hearing impaired. There often is a failure to understand each other. Oftentimes I would talk to my Dad on the phone, but oftentimes I either couldn't hear him or he couldn't hear me. Cell phone design or signal was to blame. I tried various other methods (e.g. speakerphone, multiple headphones, a Bluetooth speaker) with mostly disappointing levels of success. Now Dad has a smartphone, so we have been texting a lot more. And I can look stuff up online when I need to while texting. My phone is too new to simultaneously surf and talk.

Then there are those who don't have any texting skills and they still cannot hear me. Remember that grocery list. I got one for Coke after work one afternoon from my aunt. I had to text back asking if cans or bottles was the preference. Not having a whole lot of time and wishing I had refused the request in the first place, I called to talk about if she wanted cans. She could not hear me at all, and probably had no idea that I was calling. I had to guess what the preference was. I was wrong, and I got the answer sometime in between the grocery store and home. Over ten minutes.

Cell phones hate my voice. Or maybe I need better tech.

Ken Copper said...

Yes!! Spot on. If you have something more than "I'm running late" make a call, save your thumbs.

Mike Barer said...

Sometimes I just want to communicate something without speaking to them, so texting works fine for me.

Howard Hoffman said...

Your line was busy. I panicked and texted you. I go into therapy Tuesday.

Diane said...

Absolutely right! I want to hear the joy, despair, or intrigue in your voice as we converse. And I hate having to look up the shorthand of 3 or 4 letter abbreviations.

Kirk said...

I'm even slower texting, and more prone to mistakes, than I am typing, so I much prefer to talk.

Johnny Walker said...

Completely agree, although I acknowledge Wendy's caveats (in those circumstances the other person won't answer or the call will be very short!). The worst is when people are thrown by this simple human communication, though. What's wrong with talking?

blinky said...

Think of Woody Allen and Annie Hall walking in Manhattan after dinner having a great conversation. If they did Annie Hall today they would each be texting other people and checking their email. Maybe texting each other walking side by side.
Also I want to officially predict a New Yorker cover with the Statue of Liberty on a cell phone.

Peter said...

Ur post 2day made me LOL. I SMH at ppl who won't tlk on fone.

Melissa C. Banczak said...

As a hearing impaired woman, I have to say texting saved my life. I was very isolated before because I can't talk on the phone. I have mics and lip read in person but companions and I still resort to texting when the room is noisy. I make sure people know about my hearing issues when I send my first text. Don't write all texting off. It's the only way for some of us.

Earl Boebert said...

Jerod has it right -- texting is a boon for the hearing impaired. Without it and closed captioning my life would be diminished.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Generally, I prefer people not text or call or just show up. Maybe email, but maybe not. Postcards, I guess.

Not so much a Friday Question, just a general one: Any thoughts on THE PRESIDENT SHOW (Comedy Central, weekly)? It actually made me laugh. If nothing else, Trump has inspired some devastating mimics. (I don't know if that was on his "Things to do in first 100 days" list or not.)

MikeN said...

Texting gives you less chance of cancer.

Frederick Herman "Freddy" Jones said...

I have a similar policy except that I try to use no more than three words in a reply text. If I have to reply in the same text conversation more than three times, I will text "call when available" and wait. Most times it comes in handy because the person texting never calls and ends up figuring out any problems on their own. I become an inspiration without much effort.

I'm a lazy genius.

Kaleberg said...

Texting is great for asking or answering simple questions, especially if it involves numbers as in a price estimate or address. It avoids the whole, did I get that right dialog, and you don't have to find a pencil and paper (or start up a notes app) to write it down.

I still make phone calls, but I'm a member of the leisure class. My main complaint is that cell phone voice quality is absolutely wretched, even when someone is calling from a quiet room. I'll often tell them to just send me an email.

JR Smith said...

When I do respond to a text message, I keep it short..."Thx, Yes, No, K" Everyone gets the message.

Pamela Jaye said...

The only thing worse than texting is when I had to do it in T9. That was horrible. One time somebody sent me a text and I got it 9 hours later. I'm not particularly fond of methods of communication that do not have handshaking. I told my brother this because he's a system administrator.

If I have to tell somebody the same thing more than once or twice, I text it now because we can both search for it in the future. Or if I want to give detailed instructions such as please go to this particular store at this particular intersection and get a rain check. And then I get a phone call asking which flavor I want. I don't want a flavor. I want a rain check and if you went to the store that I sent you to you would know that because they are out of the item. :-) I guess being specific doesn't work?

Also my brother uses three letter acronyms so much that I never know what he's talking about. And I shouldn't be the one to feel guilty about that. I'm going to start talking to him in medical jargon and French

Bill said...

Texting , g chatting, hangout, whatsup or we-chat, or countless others are all great in communicating with international colleagues, it's generally free, it' gives time to form good English questions and answers, it's easy to show complex numbers, you can add links immediately.

I can hold three of four conversations at once, around the world, most non English speaking people beyond high school have better written English after all that study than we do !

I wish I could speak all the languages of my colleagues, but with this we can communicate very freely.

Andy Rose said...

I used to hate people trying to carry a conversation in texting back when texts cost 10 cents per (or even 20 cents on a burner phone). I'm not exactly a skinflint, but it would drive me crazy knowing that a short text "converation" would usually be at least a dollar out of my pocket. Once I figured out how to connect Google Voice to my phone and text for free, that was no longer a problem.

Pat Reeder said...

I looked at the defenses of texting in the comments and note that virtually all of them boil down to it being better for the hearing-impaired. Okay, I'll give it that, even though my wife is hearing-impaired and she hates texting.

But otherwise, I don't even know why texting exists. You're typing away frantically on a little keyboard until you get stubby index fingers, all to send a brief message to someone with whom you could hold an actual conversation after just a couple of taps on THE VERY SAME DEVICE!! If texting is so great, why did the telephone replace the telegram, and not the other way around? The only reason I ever text is if my call won't go through or cuts off, which happens with frustrating frequency. How come we can build a phone that replaces the functions of endless appliances, but it can't make a damn phone call?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

To everything there is a season.

wg

Roger Owen Green said...

The real problem with texting is that people insist on immediate gratification. If you don't reply immediately (because you're talking to someone else, or eating or taking a nap), they redouble their efforts.
I do see the benefit to those hard of hearing (which could be me in a crowded bar). But otherwise, meh.

ScottyB said...

I know, ain't it? I hate that shit. I've always had the same policy because, uh duhhhh -- it's still a goddamn PHONE. My sister texts me what might as well be fkn 'War & Peace'. I refuse to engage in that sort of crapola, so I don't even read 'em -- I just text back 'Call me instead.' For me, any text conversation that goes beyond 2 short exchanges is phone-call territory.

pete275 said...

I hate when my dad does this. I think it's because he doesn't know how to type with 2 thumbs, he uses the index finger on his left hand to type on the phone, so naturally he gets frustrated after a few texts. Old people, they're worse than the French am I rite?