HUMOR: Dec. 3 marked the 20th anniversary of the first text message ever sent. The message was sent by a Finnish man named Matti Makkonen from a PC to a mobile device. It said “Merry Christmas.” The message was clear, concise, and most likely saved Matti a lengthy phone call to his in-laws. Every person who has ever utilized text messaging to avoid a difficult phone call owes Matti Makkonen an all caps “THANK YOU!” text.
No one can deny the handiness of sending a short, quick message in place of making a phone call – especially for people like me who are socially awkward. But there are definitely messages that lose their meaning when they are pared down to 160 characters or less.
If Abraham Lincoln had delivered his remarks at Gettysburg via SMS, it would have gone something like, “ Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men … ” and that would have been it. Having reached his character limit, Abraham Lincoln would have ended his speech there and no American would have known which proposition our nation is dedicated to. And the South would have succeeded in seceding from the United States, and our local college would not be quaking under shaking fists demanding it change its name, and Disney World would be IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY. You see what a potential disaster text messaging can be.
Although I cannot picture President Lincoln utilizing text abbreviations, the trend seems inevitable given current text length limitations. And I am not sure I like what this trend is doing to the English language.
I rarely, if ever, use those irksome abbreviations that so many of my peers seem to have adopted. I take pride in the fact that, to my recollection, I have never “LOL”ed anyone. When a person makes the effort of cracking a hilarious joke via text message, they deserve more than a trite three-letter response. Not that I am bitter about this.
I do not even “LOL” when I have literally laughed out loud. My response? “You just made me laugh out loud! Someone should tell your editor that you deserve a raise!” To me, this seems more sincere. Of course, I have more time on my hands than the average text messenger, who has to get back to the important business of ignoring his high school Spanish teacher while texting under his desk.
And do not get me started on “THX.” Do you know what I see when I receive a text that says “THX”? No, not “thank you.” I see, “I appreciate you, but not enough to take the three seconds it would require to type out ‘thank you.’ Instead, I am typing these three letters. I am going to be so productive with all of this time that I have saved!” And then I envision the person spending exactly three seconds volunteering at an animal shelter.
In my opinion, as far as productivity and time saving is concerned, text messaging is a net loss. I think I waste more time sending messages than I ever did before Mr. Makkonen sent out that momentous “Merry Christmas.” Nonetheless, I will continue to send and receive text messages because I am far too socially awkward to make phone calls – and I love wasting time.
Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.
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