Which diabolical sadist came up with the idea of cell phone text messaging? Now there's a truly brilliant concept. Take a perfectly functional technology and put it to a use for which it is not the least bit suited. Sure, that makes perfect sense to me. Then again, nose rings make perfect sense to me. (My apologies to anyone who really does think that nose rings make perfect sense.)
The suppliers of this incredible, revolutionary, advanced technology expect us to use just ten buttons on a 12-button keypad to tap out messages in a 26-character alphabet (37 if you include numbers and spaces but no punctuation). What's more, thanks to the marvels of modern miniaturization, the keys are properly sized for the fingers of a six-year-old--and a malnourished, underdeveloped six-year-old at that. That's ironic because the top typing speed of the most experienced cell phone typist is adequate to accommodate the English vocabulary of the average one-year-old. (Okay, I exaggerate. Maybe it's a 15-month old.)
Cell phone typists developed their own language to cope with this extreme inadequacy. U no 2 wht I rfr. Unfortunately, the language is so arcane that recipients spend 25 minutes deciphering a 10-word message. The senders are the same people who try to fit a whole sentence onto a vanity license plate. The abbreviated language only transfers the inefficiency from the sender to the receiver, which is not such a bad deal for the sender who is, after all, in control.
I imagine that if you had a small but full keyboard, like on a BlackBerry, text messaging might at least come within a mile or two of making sense; if not within a mile or two, maybe within high-powered telescope range when standing on a mountaintop. Since I have never tried a BlackBerry, I am not speaking from experience. I'm told that they are very addictive. It took more than three years of intensive therapy to cure my addiction to the Solitaire game that comes with Windows, so I think it best if I just say no.
I'm not finished yet. Are you ready for this? The other day I received my first piece of cell phone text message spam. It was an anonymous person or computer with a fictitious email address saying that he, she, or it would meet me at a specific night club on Friday night. I don't know how this happened. It couldn't have been a valid message because I only have three friends, and none of them go to clubs.
I give my cell phone number out to only a very select group of people. Before doing so, I ask them to submit to a battery of psychological tests to verify their mental health and personal integrity. Then, before handing over the number, I swear them to secrecy, requiring that they pledge valuable collateral as a penalty should they break their vow. As a result of this recent breach, I may already be entitled to someone's firstborn.
My fear is that if telemarketers get hold of my cell number, clients won't pay the rates that I will have to charge so that I can afford to pay my phone bill. I'm so careful, yet still this happens. Spam on my cell phone. Soon I'll have to stop giving out my cell phone number all together and use the thing as an expensive paperweight instead.
If you ever get the urge to use your cell phone to send me a text message (although I cannot conceive of any drug that would give you that particular urge), try this instead: Dial my telephone number. We can talk. If I'm not there, leave a voice message. But, if you haven't yet passed the tests, you'll have to make do with my landline.