July 30th, 2001.

Textual positions.

The other day I took delivery of my brand new Nokia 3310 mobile phone. I'm not usually someone to get excited about such things, but I have to admit I did find myself mildly excited as I opened the colorful little box containing my soon to be a pain-in-the-ass mobile device.

I don't enjoy having a mobile phone. I find them to be more of a burden than a blessing. Since buying a sensible car I find myself in less need to call a tow truck to come a rescue me from some godforsaken roadside on a rainy night. And since moving to suburbia I rarely need to call the fire brigade to put out some burning car that has just been 'joy ridden' into the park. And since having a laptop I don't need to do so much phoning as I can email people from damn near anywhere. However, there is one slightly useful little feature about mobile phones that I do use from time to time; Text messaging. Now for those who have not got a mobile (are there people without mobiles?) or for those who are just clueless about 'texting', text messaging is a way of sending a short text message from one phone to another. It's handy when you don't want to or simply can't make a call to someone.

Like most good ideas, the world embraced it before the corporations. Since then the big money fat cats have been playing catch up and are now jumping all over the textual revolution. All of a sudden we are being encouraged to have text with one another, and positively wallow in a world of textual promiscuity.

These days my brand new vibrating pleasure phone doesn't seem to ring anymore, it simply beeps and vibrates with joy at the ridiculous amount of text it gets.

"Wht U up 2? I'm bored? U doin anythg l8r?"

At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking someone dyslexic had just sent you a message, but no, text messaging has even spawned a new sub-language so that those who are textually promiscuous can cram as much into the 160 character limit as possible.

Thing is, you can't ignore this message. You have to respond or you'll get another one.

"Why Rnt you txting me bck? R U in a mood?"

No, I'm just bloody busy working, sod off!

"Hey! txt me bck!!"

Eventually, you concede defeat and text the person back, except you use real words because you are not a textual expert.

"Sorry, I'm at work, I'm busy. I'll call you later okay"

There you have it. Conversation over. That sentence took you approximately 367 times longer to key into the number pad on your phone than it would have done if you had simply called the person, but your aim was to politely bring the 'conversation' to an end.

"O, OK. Wht R U wrkin on?"

ARGGGHHHH!!!!!! Now it's getting annoying. This is surely borderline textual harassment? You want to respond by keying in "3825 663" but that would be rude, and the text maniac at the other end would probably be highly offended. But you can't ignore them either because they'll be mortally offended and never actually speak to you again.

Modern technology has allowed us to waste hours and spend a small fortune saving time and money! It's all wonderful I'm sure, but I'm beginning to become somewhat of a cynic. The big telephone operators are telling us we now have the freedom to work on the train ride on our way to work, and that we can take our office with us everywhere we go! Somehow, and God only knows how this has become a selling point!

When I first got a mobile phone I could see who was calling me, this was great because if I didn't want to take the call I could press the red button and put the caller straight through to my voicemail. Of course, everyone knows that trick now, so if you do that you then have to answer the inevitable question (that would probably be texted to you) "why did you hang up on me?" With the advent of text messaging, I could get short messages to people and save the conversation for later. But now I find myself being textually assaulted almost every day!

It didn't take technology very long to get this far, so imagine, if you will, the nightmares we'll all have in the future. Phones with cameras in them so you can speak face to face with someone or send pictures! I'd become a millionaire overnight after inventing the 'mobile false background' so that husbands and boyfriends can appear to be somewhere other than the pub when their partners call to find out where they are!

Sooner or later, the anonymity and isolation we have tried so hard to overcome will come as an expensive premium extra added to our monthly bills. Until that time I'll just book into to see a text therapist so I can 'lrn hw 2 speak th@ new language.'