When I see the red light of my BlackBerry flashing, I am filled with a sense of excitement and soothing fulfillment. And now, I think, why would I ever want to talk on the phone again?
The first time I ever got a text, it was 2006 and it scared the pants off me. I was watching my friend play a gig at a Somerville club when I heard this strange beeping sound coming from my coat pocket. Grabbing my phone, I saw that a section of its flip lid was glowing a different color. I opened the phone and realized my girlfriend at the time had sent me a written message. Wow, that was cool, I thought. But why bother writing a text when you could have just called me?
Three years later, texts don’t scare me anymore. In fact, when I see the red light of my BlackBerry flashing, I am filled with a sense of excitement and soothing fulfillment. And now, I think, why would I ever want to talk on the phone again?
There’s something to be said for knowing that someone, somewhere, wants to communicate with you. It’s exciting because for a brief moment there’s mystery. A mundane moment becomes charged with electricity. Yep, it sounds pretty sad that something as primitive as a flashing red light (or its equivalent) can get me all a-quiver. But from what I hear I’m not alone:
“It’s nice being able to be in touch with people all the time. And if I get an unprompted text, there’s a feeling of ‘Oh, this person thought enough of me to share [whatever silly thing] with me in a text,’” said my former co-worker, Kate.
Jeremy, the musician I saw back when I got my first text, texted me that he loves getting them: “The grt thing abt txts is their immediacy. When u think something u can txt it straight away.”With the thrill of victory, however, comes the agony of defeat.
“I will always be excited if I’m desperate for distraction from something boring. But [I] will crash with disappointment if it’s junk,” fellow Somerville resident Melissa texted.
I totally empathize. But truth is, we’re generally our own worst enemies. Here’s how I let things get out of hand last month: When I signed up for a Twitter account and found a few people to follow, I pressed the setting that allowed me to get a text each time someone added a tweet. Well, it only took me a few days before I un-pressed all those buttons, as I was getting text alerts every few minutes and it was driving me crazy.Still, the pluses outweigh the minuses.
One of my friends, however, disagrees: “Not so soothing for me though,” Jenny responds. “Also, sometimes incredibly tedious and lengthy (work) or, to the other extreme, boring and uneventful (Daily Candy).”
I ask if Daily Candy is the equivalent of chit-chat or other mundane correspondence and she replies: “DailyCandy is a little of both. Used to be good, now it’s a pretty bogus daily e-mail with useless info (for me anyway). DailyKids is better.”
I didn’t ask what DailyKids meant.
James, who owns an iPhone, thus missing out on the flashing red light, texted that it can be a drag when he hears the little beep and sees the visual cue (a bubble) on his screen pop up:
“I often get excited but it’s often not the person I hope is texting me,” he texted.
Of course, if you get a little tired of all the beeps, bleeps and flashes, you can always turn off the phone. But that’s not as easy as you might think.
James turns off his phone when he’s on dates (which is a lot) or when he’s at the movies. Kate turns off her phone when she goes to church (which isn’t a lot) or to a funeral. Jenny, however, has an 8-year-old daughter, which serves as incentive to leave her phone on all the time, except for bedtime. Having two daughters around that age as well, I can appreciate the apprehension she might feel about being out of contact with her daughter, even for a few minutes. Melissa also keeps her phone on at all times but places it on vibrate when she’s in a sensitive situation.
The vibrate setting is a good compromise. But be sure you don’t place it on a hard surface like a glass coffee table or even worse, a bedside table. I did that a few weeks ago and the vibrating that proceeds the little bleep abruptly woke up my wife and me. Thankfully, she didn’t say a word as I fumbled to quickly turn off the phone. But had it awoken our 4-month-old in the next room, I doubt she would have been as forgiving.
David Rogers is the editor of the Tri-Town Transcript, Boxford, Mass. Any comments? Don’t text, but e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.