I don’t text. I don’t do it because it sucks. To me, texting is a method of communication that is used by teenagers and lazy people. And drivers who don’t care about road laws. You know, people more concerned with typing on their phone than they are with living.
It’s not only killing people, it’s also killing the English language.
Uh-oh. Oh yes, I went there. You know it’s true. Everybody’s using those retarded, misspelled slang words like LOL, LMAO, LMFAO, FML, ROTFL, ROTFLOL, IDK, OMG, OMFG. There’s a million more of those things. Nobody wants to type full words anymore.
Seriously, I want to find whatever person out there that invented this stuff and punch them right in the sternum.
I feel sorry for today’s English teachers. This terrible language habit is certainly draining the life out of the teaching professionals. Imagine trying to teach kids proper grammar when they can’t even be bothered to type that pesky apostrophe or capitalize that “i.”
The lolcatz trend is the worst, the one that makes me want to go on a screaming, crotch-punching rampage. That’s where you don’t use any capitalization, every “s” becomes a “z”, “have” becomes “haz”, etc.
All of these things are responsible for killing the English language, but I would say that the major contributor would have to be laziness. When we are texting, it is far more simple to say, “i got so wasted last nite, 4 realz. wut r u doin?” than it is to say, “I drank so much alcohol last night that I became inebriated, I am serious. What are you doing right now?” Nobody is debating that. But when you send me a text that is so ridiculous that I can’t translate it, then you are crossing the line. I know you are doing this on purpose. And I imagine you as a Neanderthal. I will think you’re so stupid you probably can’t figure out how to boil water without setting your back hair on fire.
Talk to me like that in person, and I will SAY you sound stupid. And you’d probably expect it. Unless you’re a teenager, and then you’d think I was just mean old douchebag throwing insults at you. You’d stick in your earbuds and walk away, convinced I‘ll end up a crazy wrinkled-up troll living alone and screaming obscenities at the cat.
Or like this guy:
Do you know, when someone speaks to you face-to-face, what percentage of the meaning is actually in the words, as opposed to what’s expressed in the body language and tone of voice? Take a guess.
It’s 7 percent.
The other 93 percent is nonverbal, according to studies. No, I don’t know how they arrived at that exact number. They have a fancy machine or something. But we didn’t need it. I mean, come on. Most of our humor is sarcasm, and sarcasm is just mismatching the words with the tone.
You don’t wait for a girl to verbally tell you she likes you. It’s the sparkle in her eyes, her posture, the way she grabs your head and shoves your face into her boobs.
That’s the crux of the problem. That human ability to absorb the moods of others through that kind of subconscious osmosis is crucial. Kids born without it are considered mentally handicapped. People who have lots of it are called “charismatic” and become movie stars and politicians.
When we’re living in Text World, all that is stripped away. There’s a weird side effect to it, too. Take away a sense of the other person’s mood, and every line we read gets filtered through our own mood instead. We suddenly think somebody’s message is sarcastic and mean because we are in a irritable mood. In that state of mind, we are all trying to be offended.
That’s one of the big reasons young people are so thin-skinned these days. They spend too much of their time isolated electronically and communicating this way, and their mood never changes. People keep annoying them because they haven’t built up the necessary tolerance.
The problem is we’ve built an awesome, sprawling web of technology meant purely to let us avoid annoying people. Do all your Christmas shopping online and avoid the fat lady ramming her cart into you at Target. Spend $5,000 on a home theater system so you can see movies on a big screen without a toddler kicking the back of your seat. Hell, rent the DVD’s from Netflix and you don’t even have to spend the 30 seconds with the confused kid working the register at the video rental place.
Get stuck in a public place and there‘s no way we’re striking up a conversation with the person in the next seat. No, we plug the iPod into our ears and have a text conversation with a friend or play our DS. Filter that annoyance right out of our world.
Now that would be awesome if it were actually possible to keep all of the irritating shit out of your life. But, it’s not. It never will be. As long as you have needs, you’ll have to deal with people you can’t stand from time to time. We’re losing that skill, the one that lets us deal with strangers and tolerate their personalities and senses of humor and squeaky shoes.
These days, we can go online and find our niche. We can electronically socialize with people exactly just like us. We can lock everybody else out.
Like this. It’s a forum just for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Seems normal enough. People post their thoughts and speculate on plot points and favorite episodes. But on closer inspection, something’s just a little off here.
One user, “jamie_marsters” appears to be quite prolific, posting and replying many, many times a day. We suppose it’s sort of creepy that she’s taken the name of Buffy star James Marsters, and changed it to Jamie to imply familiarity, like an ex-girlfriend or an old babysitter might. A quick look at the profile statistics and things get much worse. Look at the number of total posts “jamie” has made.
Huh, she must be really into the community to make almost 40,000 posts. The only problem is that there is no community. There is only jamie_marsters. Scrolling through the archives reveals that there are virtually no other users, just this one, posting non stop, replying to herself, over and over again, every minute of every day for the last eight years, alone inside her own dark little echo-chamber of madness.
Okay, that’s an extreme example. But it illustrates the analogy. The online world holds a very dangerous kind of isolation.
We no longer have to go through that tedious, awkward, painful process of dealing with somebody who’s truly different. We can laugh at the way things used to be, at all those Old World inconveniences. Dealing with people is outdated, like having to wash your clothes in a creek.
The problem is that peacefully dealing with incompatible people is crucial to living in a society. In fact, if you think about it, peacefully dealing with people you can’t stand is society. Just people with opposite tastes and conflicting personalities sharing space and cooperating.
I was lucky enough to have come of age in a time when you had to sit in a crowded room to see a movie. You didn’t get to choose. You either did that or you missed the movie. When you got a new car, everyone on the block came and stood in your yard to look it over. You can bet that some of those people were assholes.
Yet, on the whole, people back then were apparently happier in their jobs and more satisfied with their lives. And they had more friends.
That’s right. Even though they had almost no ability to filter their peers according to common interests, they still came up with more close friends than we have now.
It turns out, apparently, that after you get over that first irritation, after you shed your shell of “they listen to different music because they wouldn’t understand mine” superiority, there’s a sort of comfort in needing other people and being needed on a level beyond common interests. It turns out humans are social animals after all. And that ability to tolerate annoyance, that’s literally the one single thing that allows you to function in a world populated by other people who aren’t you.
And that‘s why today‘s teenagers can‘t take criticism.
In my time on Earth, I’ve been called an asshole approximately 4,104,165 times. I know because I keep an Excel spreadsheet on it.
And none of it mattered. I’ve been insulted lots, but I’ve only paid attention to the criticisms. And don’t ever confuse the two. An insult is just someone who hates you making a noise to indicate their hatred. Like a barking dog. Criticism is someone trying to help you, by telling you something about yourself that you were a little too comfortable not knowing.
Tragically, we have a whole new generation now who grew up without ever having those conversations.
Texting is an awesome tool for avoiding that level of honesty. You have almost total control and as a result that other person never sees past your armor, never sees you at your worst, never knows the embarrassing little things about yourself that you can’t control. Gone are the common quirks, humiliations and vulnerabilities that real friendships are built on.
A whole lot of young people might read this and think they have valid reasons for being so sensitive and outraged at the way things are. They deserve to be emo and depressed because people are starving. They think America has turned into Nazi Germany. People are dying in meaningless wars all over the world.
But how did they wind up with a more negative view of the world than us? Or our parents? Or our grandparents? Back then, people didn’t live as long and babies died more often. Diseases were more common. In those days, if your buddy moved away the only way to communicate was with pen and paper and a stamp. These kids have Iraq, but we had Vietnam (which killed 50 times more people) and our parents had World War 2 (which killed 1,000 times as many). Our grandparents grew up at a time when nobody had air conditioning. Their parents didn’t even have electricity.
We are physically better off today in every possible way in which such things can be measured. But you sure as hell wouldn’t know that if you read or watch the news. Why?
Because the media knows that outrage manufactures the most interest, the most traffic. Every article or show is a dogfight for traffic. They measure success by the size of the audience. So they always choose the most inflammatory stories possible. The other outlets do the same thing. Every opposing politician is Hitler, every election is the apocalypse. If you want, you can surf all day and never swim out of the warm, stagnant waters of the “aren’t those bastards evil” pool.
This wasn’t as much a problem in the old days, of course. We had only three channels on TV. That’s right. Three. There was something unifying in the way we all sat down to watch the same news, all of it coming from the same point of view. And it was told with a comforting sense of hope and optimism.
That’s over. No more common threads. There effectively is no “mass media” any more so, where before we disagreed because we saw the same news and interpreted it differently, now we disagree because we’re seeing completely different freaking news. When we can’t even agree on the basic facts, the differences become irreconcilable. That constant feeling of being at bitter odds with the rest of the world brings with it a tension that just builds and builds.
We humans used to have lots of natural ways to release that kind of angst. But these days, people just disconnect and go into their computers to interact with their “online friends.” And there’s one advantage to that, and it’s one that nobody ever talks about.
Online friends demand less from you.
Sure, you emotionally support them, comfort them after a breakup, maybe even talk them out of a suicide. But knowing someone in person adds a whole, long list of annoying demands. Wasting your whole afternoon helping them fix their computer. Going to funerals with them. Toting them around in your car every day because they don’t have a working vehicle. Having them show up unannounced when you were just settling in to watch the Dirty Jobs marathon on the Discovery channel, then mentioning how hungry they are until you finally give them half your sandwich.
You have so much more control online.
The problem is that you’re hard-wired by evolution to need to do things for people. Everybody for the last five thousand years seemed to realize this and then we suddenly forgot it in the last twenty. We get suicidal teens and scramble to teach them self-esteem. Well, unfortunately, self-esteem and the ability to like yourself only comes after you’ve done something that makes you likable.
You want to break out of that black tar pit of depression? Then step away from the computer and go buy a nice gift for someone you loathe. Send a card to your worst enemy. Make dinner for your mom and dad. Or just do something simple, with an tangible result. Go clean the leaves out of the gutter. Grow a damn plant.
It ain’t rocket science. You are a social animal and you are born with little happiness hormones that are released into your bloodstream when you see a physical benefit to your actions. Think about all those teenagers in their dark bedrooms, glued to their phones, texting away for hours, turning every life problem into a ridiculous melodrama. There’s no stress relief in it.
Stress relief via mild discomfort used to be part of our daily lives, via our routine of hunting gazelles and gathering berries and climbing rocks and fighting bears. No more. This is why office jobs make so many of us miserable. We don’t get any physical, tangible result from our work. But do construction out in the hot sun for two months, and for the rest of your life you can drive past a certain house and say, “Holy shit, I built that.” Maybe that’s why mass shootings are more common in offices than construction sites.
It’s the kind of physical, dirt-under-your-nails satisfaction that you can only get by turning off the computer, going outdoors and re-connecting with the real world. That feeling can’t be matched by anything the internet has to offer.
Except, you know, this blog.