Monday, April 23, 2007

While you were busy this weekend not running up extraordinary charges on your cell phone bill, the Korean electronics manufacturer LG was hosting our first annual National Texting Championship. Swifter, higher, stronger, abbreviated-er. The competition must have been thrilling: all the excitement of touch typing, but much, much smaller. Our first ever national text messaging champion is Morgan Pozgar, a thirteen year-old girl — I know, I can't believe our country's best text messager is a tweenager — or, as the AFP article I found described her in the headline, "13yo skool grl." Thanks, clever AFP reporter, for dumbing us all down like that.

I guess the plus side here is if, say, our army is stuck behind enemy lines in Iraq and they need someone to SMS the Defense Department "omg, nd 2 get outta here asap!!! lol!" in an emergency, now we know who to turn to. Thank God.

I do not understand the appeal of texting. I mean, you've got the damn phone right there, so why can't you just use it? The whole texting trend started in Europe, where they're apparently too good to actually talk to each other, and also too good to hit on me in the bars. The Finnish cell phone company Nokia popularized texting back in 1998, when they focus-grouped what the marketing department calls "a younger demographic." High school students. Nokia asked the same dumbshits who brought us Carson Daly and five direct-to-video American Pie movies what they were looking for in a phone. This explains why your cell phone has games that you'll pay $4.95 a minute for on it. You see, grown-ups were all using their phone for bourgeois things, brokering business deals or calling triple-A when the car broke down. Kids are supposed to be in school, but they've got more important things to do, like alerting their friends, "party @ jims house 2nite." Society began to crumble, and the super-classy prime minister totally dumped his gf via txt msg. Nokia stumbled upon the untapped market of people who find being a useful, productive member of society just a little too onerous, and the next thing you know, people are too busy Twittering and texting their votes for American Idol to reproduce, and that's the end of the human race.

And the prize for hastening our doom is $25,000, cash, which I'm sure tweenage Morgan will put to good use, donating it to cancer research or saving it in her college fund or... no, according to the article, "ozgar, who says she wants to work in fashion when she's older, had no hesitation about how to spend her prize money -- 10,000 dollars for the east coast championship and a further 15,000 dollars for the national award. She said she was going to hit the stores in New York City." You know, for that kind of money, you could buy like, two-hundred cell phones and text your 200 best friends simultaneously.

Now there's a competition that I would watch.

I think what I resent here is the cultural assumption that we're all too busy to have genuine freaking contact with each other. Every new technology seems bent on making our conversations even more vapid than they already are, while the proliferation of communication makes us think we're actually in touch with one another. I mean, no one ever gives me a phone call, except for my parents and my boss, and the fact that some people find the possibility of human contact completely gratuitous sort of irritates me. Just a little. Okay, who's in my chat room? Hundred people, maybe hundred twenty. I wonder what their vital stats are, that's definitely the first thing I care about when I meet someone. Is "skifan218" a dude or a chick? If I have sex with skifan218 — through the keyboard, mouse, the fiber optics, the TCP and ARP-routers, bits and bytes: it's all so hott! I'm too busy to spell correctly and I've got to express my deepest emotions in punctuation. "Jane and I live less than a mile from each other, and we never would've met if it wasn't for eHarmony!"

So what do we do? We legitimize this crap. We give it to the most well-adjusted people in our society, the children, we let them make up a new language, a new subculture. We have a reason for being our lazy, alienated selves: the kids are all doing it. I can't wait until we take the trend to its conclusion and infantilize everything.