This text messaging has gone too far

Call me old-fashioned or analogue, but I refuse to have new phone technology replace the things that SHOULD and MUST have a real human touch and presence. I refuse to

  • PublishedJune 28, 2013

Call me old-fashioned or analogue, but I refuse to have new phone technology replace the things that SHOULD and MUST have a real human touch and presence. I refuse to become a slave to foreign text messaging language that sometimes makes no sense when I care so much about my grammar. May be I am too old or too well schooled to accept scribbles like “plz for please, cnfm for confirm, u r for you are, frm for from…” replace the English language that I spent years in school learning. This alien language, to me, is not communication.

I have at times received text messages and couldn’t figure out the information therein. Right now, as I write this from the US, I have on my phone a text message from a relative and I have no idea what it’s all about. I would need a ‘text-messaging dictionary’ to decipher the encrypted message. I don’t think it’s my responsibility to call people to ask what they mean. I work on one principle – if it’s important follow it up with a call, an email or a personal visit. I can understand you saving on words to save money on a one-shilling text message, but what is the use if you don’t get through what you intend to say? Yes, I will send you a text message to say I am running late or to confirm a meeting or even to pass a message but it will not replace a call, a formal invitation or a face-to-face meeting. It will also be in English.

Just so you understand why I am complaining that this text messaging business has gone too far, not too long ago, I received a wedding invitation by text two days before the event. And this was from a family I respect and would have wanted to be there for their daughter’s wedding. Written in the text language I abhor to fit within the 60 characters most phones allow, it was the most hilarious wedding invitation I could imagine.

I not only thought it was disrespectful, but also a disservice to their daughter. And yes, you guessed right. I didn’t go. I wouldn’t go to a wedding without the oldfashioned invitation card or a more personalised invitation. The most notorious and annoying ‘texters’ are friends and relatives appealing for the one thing you work so hard for – money. I recall during the just concluded election campaigns receiving many text messages from people I know, who were contesting various positions, asking for financial assistance.

I helped where I could those who followed up with a call or came to see me, but ignored all the others. There is one particular person I would have gone out of my way to support financially if she would have replaced her many generalised text messages with a phone call.

While technology is good and has made things quite easy, it has been misused. I don’t know whether it’s meant to be a joke but I have  heard that some young people no longer communicate by mouth but by finger. A young man will spend a whole day with a girl he admires and will not say a thing until he gets back to the comfort of his home and start shooting those gibberish messages of love. Or send her a text message on the table to tell her he loves her! What? Why can’t he open that mouth and say it? I hear there are also proposals on text. Really? You send me a text saying, “Will you marry me?” This must be real because we covered one in the “Bond of Love” column some time back. What if you send your message to the wrong person? And sometimes it happens.

About four years ago while on a cruise on the Rhine River with my husband, I received a most weird text message. “Thank you… you were awesome tonight…” It was from a professional colleague in Kenya, a married man, dare I say, and his wife’s name is not Eunice and obviously the message was intended for a Eunice, and not this one. This highly respected professional would have cringed had he known that the message went to the wrong Eunice. We laughed it off with my husband though, out of respect, I didn’t disclose the sender but we both agreed it was stupid to use text messaging for certain things at certain times.

Until Mr. Kibunjia and his commission came around, some people used text messages to abuse, threaten and  malign others. This went on until we saw a few people appear in court accused of sending hate messages or threats by text and we learnt a lesson or two. In the same way, I think we need to learn a few more things about sending messages by text. It’s a great way to communicate but it should be used appropriately. You can tell me a million times you love me on text or email, but I want to hear the voice saying it and read your body language.

If you really care about me being part of your life, don’t send me generic text messages. When my daughter gets married, you can be sure to receive a card, if you are on the guest list, and it will be hand-delivered to you. I  wouldn’t expect you to be there if you received a text message invitation because a) you were definitely not on the official guest list or b) the cards got finished after the important guests were invited or c) you were forgotten and only remembered in the last minute when it was too late to send a card.

And if I want to invite you to my church’s fundraising dinner, I will send you the old-fashioned appeal letter, followed by a call from Joyce my PA, and a card if you confirm availability. This is because I respect you and the personal or professional relationship I share with you.

I also respect your time and money and would never take you for granted to the point of expecting you to respond to a generic text message sent to one and all.

Let’s not allow technology to kill the values that are so dear to us.

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