Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Death of the Beautiful Text Message

My friends used to be such lovely people. So hilarious. Their quips would brighten my break time at work, or make me smile on my journey home. I'm sure they still are as wonderful as they used to be (or are they becoming complacent? more on that later...) but due to a recent circumstance I have realised that the quality of everyone's text messages has eroded to an almost unrecognisable level.

Now, it might just be that the people I know have just stopped caring about me. Hey, it happens. But I'd much rather blame something else, of course I would. And who do I blame?

Those bloody Social Networking sites.

Social networking, you say? Those wonderful places where we can yell our every inane thought into the dark and people we know can comment on them and verify our existence? How can they be destroying our connections to people? We've all had more friends than ever since we could sort, add, edit and scrutinise them efficiently. There couldn't be anything bad about them.

I didn't say that I hated social networking sites - I am a member of nearly all of them, after all. As a narcissistic insular weirdo, I like writing personal bios and seeing exactly what people think about my comments on what I'm having for my tea. All I'm saying is that people are becoming lazy. I see my friend's face online, that instinctively means they have seen me, we both know each other is alive, therefore no conversation is needed. This happens more than you'd think. Since the advent of Facebook Chat, I have talked less to my friends than ever before. Yes, it is useful to chat aimlessly with people you already talk aimlessly to for hours and hours, but say you hadn't talked to this person for a few months. Surely it's a bit odd to suddenly 'pop' into life at the bottom of their screen, brandishing a commanding red square and taking up about four minutes of their life as you say "hi" to each other and then realise awkwardly that you haven't got anything to say. Which is why you fell out of touch in the first place. It's the online equivalent of meeting an old schoolfriend on a train. You're trapped. They saw you, you saw them, it'd be rude not to chat. But you're stuck together for the remainder of the journey. What on earth do you talk about after the initial "HI OMG I HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN AGES!"?

Here, we return to my gripe about text messages. There is little need for me to text my friends hilarious nonsense anymore, because I can just say things to them in real time anytime I want. It has stopped breaktimes being a fun part of the day when I look at my phone and realise somebody has sent me the entire lyrics to "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry. I never get anybody contacting me to spell JOHN MERRICK out in capitals these days. I miss being told that I am missed, and I miss texting people longer and more elaborate text messages than "ok" or "in a bit". Text messages are now a means to an end, they aren't a way of keeping in touch anymore.

This makes me sad. Bring back the extra-long sentimental surreal text messages of yore. The ones you thought through for ages because you only had 10p left so each character was edited brutally. My contract phone has killed off my friends. I want them back.

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