Texting: Will SOMEONE please explain?

I give up.  I just can’t understand it.

A couple of days ago, after having dinner with friends and then attending a social event, one of the friends TEXTED me the next morning and thanked me for recommending the restaurant.

As I fumbled to TEXT a reply on my cellphone keyboard, another TEXT arrived from the same friend, asking if I had enjoyed the social gathering?

I sent off my answer to the first TEXT.

I still hadn’t finished TEXTING my response to the second query, when a third TEXT interrupted, asking how late I had stayed?

I did not answer.

In this modern world of super technology, when urban life moves at hyper speed and the entire history of world knowledge can fit into a disc you hold in the palm of your hand,  surely someone should be able to invent a machine where .. . instead of typing our conversations back and forth one sentence at a time … we could actually just TALK to each other and communicate instantly!

So in one minute we could convey five times the information …complete with tonal inflections, audible chuckles and even hear each other’s voices simultaneously … in lieu of that cold, slower characterless and often misspelled TEXTED conversation conveys.

Whoever comes up with such a TALKING machine could become very rich!

And earn my life-long respect, appreciation and gratitude.

How did we get to this point in our MODERN civilization … where we now realistically talk about establishing a permanent populated base on Mars, where we actually have rockets that land back on their feet after blasting their cargo into space, where nano-technology is enabling medical miracles and other accomplishments once thought impossible … and yet, more and more of us are reverting to typed telegrams to convey messages or questions or even full discussions between one another?

Is carpel thumb-al soon to become our new debilitating medical crisis for the Millenial generation?

Are we all soon going to have to learn, or re-learn,  Morse Code … in case we’re in a REAL hurry to convey something?

Now, I DO get it … that, in certain circumstances (not wanting to disturb those around us or just wanting to send a brief note to be read when the intended recipient can get to it) … TEXTING can serve a purpose.

But let’s keep it real!

Today, so many people are conducting so many FULL LENGTH conversations …. of little or absolutely no urgency at all … by typing them out that their faces for hours each day are directed downward at a 45 degree angle.

They move about oblivious to the world around them … TEXTING while walking (even while crossing busy roads); while eating  (ignoring or insulting others at the table … unless they’re TEXTING too); while sitting on trains or on buses … even cruise ships!! … instead of observing, absorbing and enjoying the world around them; and, yes, even TEXTING while driving.


What has happened to us?

Maybe someone can explain it to me.

But please … don’t TEXT me your response.

Harv Oberfeld

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20 Responses to Texting: Will SOMEONE please explain?

  1. 13 says:

    Im with you all the way on texting Harvey. Many times people text and their text is misunderstood because one person reads a completely different meaning than the sender intended.
    The company that I drive for does all of its dispatching on a smart phone with an app designed for trucking operations. ITS IDIOTIC. The screen is so small that my aged eyes cant read it without wearing my reading glasses. Here is a typical scenario.
    Im driving a loaded 47,000 kg truck and trailer in heavy traffic and its raining.
    My smart phone attached to the dash indicates I have a message.
    I drive till I find a safe place to park. I change my glasses and read the message.
    “were running late how long till you arrive at…”
    So I fumble with the teany tiny keyboard and reply ” a lot sooner if you stop texting me”.
    Harvey I have a bluetooth and I talk on my phone all day long to pass the time . Its a wonderful invention the magical cordless cell phone.

    (Response: It’s almost funny at times. But I think it’s also a sign of an increasingly impersonal, technical society. When you hear someone’s voice …even if its just a short call, there’s a higher degree of association and connection than by text. h.o.)

  2. Gordie says:

    Texting while on a cruise ship! Hard to believe…

    I don’t even have a cell phone and I’m quite happy going without, but it is getting harder. For example, I was at a restaurant recently and there was a line up even though I had made a reservation. The hostess said that she would text me when my table became available. She seemed flustered about what to do when I told her I didn’t have a cell phone. Another example. I was at my local WalMart and saw a sign saying that if I ordered something online for pickup at the store, I was to phone this number to have somebody bring it out.

    (Response: Some people pay hundreds of dollars (US) for “unlimited” WIFI on a 7-day cruise … phone calls can cost $7 a minute. Yet I see many, many passengers glued to their devices almost constantly. It really is a modern sociological phenomenon … and not a good one, in my view. h.o.)

  3. The Scribe says:

    Congratulations Harvey, you are officially a curmudgeon! 🙂

    I find texting to be a valuable method of communication, BUT, as you said it should never replace the spoken voice.

    Unfortunately, for the current young generation, speaking to each other takes a backseat to texts, Instagrams, Snapchats, etc. The only time kids want to talk is is video chats or live streams – where there are multiple people all online together.

    While I am an old fart too, retirement beckons next fall, my daughter is only 13 (which will likely push off retirement a few more years). She is very tech-savvy but we have simply kept her off social media. That in turn has reduced text only interactions as most of her cohorts communicate over Snapchat and Instagram and she is not allowed to use them.

    I did worry that I might turn her into a social pariah, but so far she is accepting of the rules. And, she actually seems to agree more often than not, with my reasoning whenever we read about some sort of cyber-bullying incident.

    As to the issue you presented Harvey, I think the idea is that you respond as the texts pop in. It doesn’t matter that they are not in proper order. I text with many of my colleagues who are 10 to 30 years younger than me and it seems to work. We all generally are able to follow the conversation at the time.

    You might find that you will be faster if you use the abbreviated text-talk as the young ‘uns do. Personally, I have drawn a line in the sand that I will always type full sentences with proper grammar and spelling. It’s what identifies me as being old!

    (Response: I joined the curmudgeon brigade years ago … and failing to respond immediately to texts just brings more text asking if “I’m there?” And without hearing the voice … Not even sure how they mean that! h.o)

  4. e.a.f. says:

    They’re disengaging from the world around them. They’re disengaging from friends and family and perhaps from those they really don’t want to talk to, but feel they must communicate with at some level and perhaps that is their friends, families, spouses, etc.

    Texting is great if you don’t know where some is at the moment and you don’t want to interrupt. Its great for sending a quick message, hey, turn on channel …. and check who they’re interviewing.

    For many, because of all the methods of communications are not wanting to engage and texting permits them to stay within their own heads and not deal with the world around them.

    I still prefer to e-mail, its like writing a letter.

    Texting in some areas became easier, well less expensive, than phoning. that makes sense. In some areas people couldn’t access the internet and their phones had texting and it was less expensive than phone usage.

    This all day texting, don’t get it. Don’t get people not getting off their phones long enough to talk to their children, even in vehicles. You can see parents pushing a stroller with a happy toddler, trying to “talk” to them and they won’t get off their phones. The worst case I ever saw, was in a restaurant, two people texting each other. My sibling wondered if they were deaf, nope, they spoke to the server and went back to texting each other. Now it may have been new and novel at the time, but really.

    It has created another form of “English” as we know it. Symbols, shortened words, etc. It would be interesting to know if people in other countries text as much as we do and how it has impacted their language.

    Personally I like to pick up the phone and talk, but then I’m rather long winded/worded. Hey, BMCQ do you text? We both must hold records for long comments here.

    Just wondering Harvey, what personality types text, phone, or e-mail.

    I suspect some older individuals, such as ourselves, simply don’t text a lot, it wasn’t our mode of communications. Others in our age group, text to feel they’re still young. The thumb problem, yes its a problem. Same as typing was a problem for those who typed all the time. Still like to hear my friend’s voices.

    this is such a fun topic, thank you!

    (Response: Interestingly…after I posted my item …got SEVEN texts (each a question that required a reply) from a millennial friend. Took more than 12 minutes: could have answered all the questions in a 2-minute phone call. h.o.)

  5. hawgwash says:

    My biggest complaint with texting and the whole tech talk scene, is the absolute butchery of the “English” language and sentence structure.

    I get even more upset when I read news items, hastily put together, with obvious gramatical errors and misinformation.

    I text my busy sons; “get back to me when you get a chance.” When they get a chance they call me.

    One of my long time best buddies was runover and killed. From behind. While on his bike at a stop light. By a texting driver.

    (Response: It’s not just the quality … it’s also amazing how much useless info now flows as well: things we would have never kept others abreast of each day, or even hour, … and that no one cared to know anyway. h.o.)

  6. max avelli says:

    I feel your pain, Harvey.

    Can I call you to discuss it? 🙂

    (Response: Not collect!!! h.o_

  7. Ken says:

    Inappropriate use of technology – will get you every time. Speaking of which, you should seriously consider moving your blogging over to Twitter.

    (Response: Don’t want too large exposure …it’s only a hobby… and pays me nil. h.o.)

  8. DBW says:

    Harvey, you literally told us

    “But please … don’t TEXT me your response.”

    And here we are responding to you with text.

    One of the advantages of texting is the privacy. Sometimes I will text with my daughter during her break at work. Like me, she finds it difficult to have phone conversations in public. Sometimes I send her little “dad” messages that she can read on her break or after work.

    But I get your point.

    Clearly texting is bad in certain situations. Nobody should be texting while driving. Nobody should be texting while pushing a stroller or supervising children. Those moments are so important for child language development that to waste them while you are on your phone is almost criminal. And unless you warn your dinner mates that you are expecting an important call, your cell phone should disappear during meals.

    This is an interesting topic of conversation even over a blog rather than in person. I am not someone who is particularly adept at discussing things in groups. I like the time to digest the information, swirl it a bit before responding. Texting can allow us the time to do that.

    And while I also bemoan some of the inordinate amount of time that people spend on their phones it isn’t all unnecessary texting or lost conversational time. I know I use my phone a lot but not really as a phone. I have thought about the time I spend on technology compared to say 20 years ago.

    For one thing, I am not working so there is more time to be on devices but I also spend far more time in outdoor activities and volunteering and reading (and I mean actual book reading) and exercising than I ever did.

    I listen to podcasts and read blogs and read online news services at the expense of the 3+ hours a day I used to spend reading newspapers or watching TV news. I play games on my phone rather than staring into space or reading a year old magazine while waiting for my doctor or dentist. I can spend time on my phone because I have stopped watching most TV shows including hockey and baseball that I used to watch a lot.

    Times change and it is important that we educate ourselves and especially our youth about some of the disadvantages that these changes can entail.

    But one thing I know that hasn’t changed. When I see people I know downtown, I generally stop to chat.

    (Response: I see this as e-mail … quite fine … and certainly not a text … in the verb form. h.o.)

  9. Cora says:

    I am over 70 and I text regularly. I have seven grandchildren and find that I hear from them on a regular basis by text which would not likely happen if they had to call. They can send me pictures of a new hairstyle or color, a prom dress or perhaps a tattoo. I also have one who texts me regularly but also likes to receive old fashioned letters. We correspond by snail mail regularly as well as text.

    (Response: I recently received a four-page handwritten high school paper from my nephew’s son AFTER we spoke on the phone and he mentioned it. BOTH communication styles were wonderful: to HEAR his voice and exchange ideas/thoughts … and then to SEE his actual handwritten essay. Sure better than having him just text me the premise! h.o.)

  10. BMCQ says:

    I have read your Post Blog Topic and agree with much of it but I also understand that your friends simply care about you, wanted to convey those feelings to you and they chose a simple quick note without a long phone call.

    Texting in times like that say “Hey I care, I had fun and I hope you did” .

    As long as that is the end of it I see no harm in it.

    I text when I do not want to talk or talk is not necessary.

    When I travel or pick someone up that arrives to see me or I am meeting someone I text for convenience.

    Quite often I am picked up at airports and I send a text as I clear customs saying “Out front” and the person meeting me can just pull up and we drive off.

    I have people do the same when I pick them up, no fuss no muss, and no parking a car and wasting time waiting inside.

    I have someone from out of town meeting me downtown for dinner and I will confirm with them by test that morning saying “C U 7 pm Card”, I will get confirmation and we are solid, no phone call.

    I travel a lot and I text often with my office for convenience even though I get all my e Mail.

    Quite often my Wife will text me with a short grocery list that might just say carrots and or one or two other items so I pick them up. Simple easy and no long conversation.

    If I am really fortunate my Wife might text me with just a simple Emoji Smile nothing else the odd time and I kind of like that.

    I also get the Emoji Smile from Bean and Hawgwash and Aghast quite often and I think that is nice as well.

    As has already been stated by many here Texting is great as long as it is appropriate and not too often or over the top.

    I really like much of what DBW had to say especially the “Dad Daughter” part, very nice .

    (Response: Of course, as I mentioned in my post, there are times/occasions when texting is fine. But I believe it has gone too far …now being used to ask far too detailed questions, convey ideas/thoughts that don’t lend themselves easily to short, typed texts or even to AVOID speaking to people directly. Yesterday, after I posted, I received SEVEN texts/questions from someone I know who is thinking of visiting me in Vancouver this summer: surely a topic like that …and all the questions of timing etc…warrant more than a text exchange. h.o)

  11. G,. Barry Stewart says:

    Fun topic! (e.a.f, I love your poke at BMCQ and texting. Yes, you and Bob might have THE longest texts!)

    Texts have their place (and drawbacks), for sure. Today is a busy day in our family, with grandson pick-up point depending on traffic flow, early release from work and evening activities.

    A communal text to all parties involved keeps everyone in the loop, with a written record they can review.

    As for wasting time, texting: I’ve overheard people talking on the phone at store line-ups, chatting about stuff that is equally as useless as what they might text about. As DBW says, at least texting is quiet and private. The rest of us don’t have to listen to it.

    Random thought just popped into head… telegrams were precursor of modern texting. Cold and impersonal and cut down to barebones words — but oh, so important at times! “We have struck an iceberg and sinking by the head,”

    I don’t know who on here has tried “speech to text” but it may be worth a try. Your phone can learn your pronunciations and favourite words, over time.

    You have to tell it “comma,” “period,” “new paragraph” and so on — but it saves on typing.

    Be careful to review what it has written down, though. I said “I wish you good success” and the phone heard it as “I wish you good sex”!

    I caught that one before pressing send!

    (Response: I certainly appreciate the “improvements” in communication that modern technology has afforded us. And even texting has its proper place. However it really is overdone by many these days and I can’t help but note how it does going backwards in terms of communicating … back to the days of the telegraph! h.o.)

  12. BMCQ says:

    e.a.f. – 4

    Over the years I have spent more than enough time on the phone during work hours from 5 am so I am not a big talker after work and as a matter of fact my Cel phone and Texting are all turned off at 5 pm if I am home.

    No Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin either.

    I am continually pressured to go on Facebook and Twitter but so far I have resisted.

    I have also avoided LinkedIn but at this point it looks like it may be necessary, good thing is is more for business than Social.

    All of them can be of value but for far too many of us they become as important or more important than family. It is very sad.

    I will leave that Social Media discussion for another day but I must admit Social Media is crippling the lives of many in soceity, especially Male Millenials or as I call them “Pajama Boys” !

    A tragedy in the making if there ever was one.

    Between Fentanyl and Gaming we will be close to losing a huge part of a whole generation of younger Males.

    Thank God for the most part Females have the good common sense to avoid Fentanyl and Gaming .

    I will explain it all to you in a Text e.a.f. .

  13. DBW says:

    After two very contentious topics, you select one where I can agree with or at least understand everybody’s point of view.

    And seeing that you did ask why Harvey …

    I decided to text my daughter and ask her why people will have long conversations using text rather than picking up the phone. The time it took was about 10 minutes. Total number of words typed about 250 so two minutes worth of talking if that.

    Here’s what she said. Some plans, the very cheapest, are texting only. Other plans can include phone but are limited to certain areas and certain times.

    There is no way that she would use her phone in a public setting like a bus or park or mall or lunchroom. She would always text.

    At different times both of us didn’t respond right away. That’s why the “conversation” took so long. In my case I got my wife a pencil and stopped our new puppy from tormenting the cat. Couldn’t have done those if on the phone. In her case, I asked her why she didn’t respond right away and she said she was thinking of other reasons. On the phone, dead air would have forced us on to other topics. And while she wasn’t responding, I sent her a picture of the new puppy.

    This isn’t a defense of texting long and in our case a pretty pointless “conversation” despite the intended research behind it.

    What I have long realized is that it is almost impossible to understand everybody’s reasons for preferring some things over others. We can only control our own behaviour.

    So, Harvey, when someone texts you with questions or whatever, just push the little phone icon and tell them you would prefer to talk rather than text. And if you are anything like me who doesn’t particularly like talking on the phone, especially long chatty conversations , you may end up preferring texts.

    (Response: Terrific points you and others have been making on this…. esp the “texts are free” info while “calls cost”. I get it ….. except I have the worst long texting conversations when I’m in the Us …where calls are also almost unlimited or so cheap, compared to Canada. I think it may also be a generational thing: older folks with failing eyes and slowing, arthritic(?) thumbs (LOL) don’t do it much as those younger. I just wish before they’d give us a few minutes to: find our phones; read the question: and slowly, clumsily type an answer … before they interrupt that whole process with text/questions Number 2 or 3 or 4! h.o.)

  14. nonconfidencevote says:

    To text or not to text, that is the question.
    In crowded spaces like Skytrain, buses, terminals, large business meetings where you are one of many people waiting to discuss your issue, etc.
    Texting is far far better than being trapped , listening to inane , vapid conversations.
    But thats just me.

    As for one on one texting.
    My only pet peeve is when I’m at work, discussing work related issues one on one with coworkers or subordinates and they recieve a personal, non work related text and try to either secretly read it or answer it while Im still talking..
    Unbelievably rude.
    I immediately stop talking.
    It usually takes them about 5 seconds to realize I’m not talking.
    They look up and I say, “Family Emergency?”

    What is soooo “important” that people are constantly texting during work time, day in and day out?
    Nothing. They’re just gabbing and they see nothing wrong with it.
    Its theft of time and it’s endless.
    But they’d never do it if it involved a phone call.

    (Response: On a bus or train, texting can be better suited than phone chatter. But in meetings, they should be turned OFF … if there’s a real emergency (probably once on 20 years) people can call you to reach you on a land line … another fading reality! h.o)

  15. hawgwash says:

    HO said;”I think it may also be a generational thing: failing eyes and thumbs…give us a few minutes to: find our phones; read the question: and slowly, clumsily type an answer…”

    I belong to a group which solves all the world’s problems on an “members only” forum.
    9 out of 10 times, I compose and submit my thoughts or dumb questions while parked in a La-Z-Boy with an Asus on my thighs.

    I read a comment, I think about my response, I type via word, read, edit, copy paste and BMCQ’s your uncle.

    Every once in a while when away from home I feel an urgency to respond to a comment NOW instead of waiting; usually because I know I will have lost the thought by the time I get home.

    I should not do that. My phone has a way of turnig cohernet, welcome posed sentences into something only my two year old grandson wood produce onan etch a sketch.

    All the reading and editing fails and it is all Samsung’s fault.

    An interesting by-product of and all this modern hurried, technology dependent life:
    I read two bits the same week; 1) schools are removing analogue clocks because students can no longer read them and 2) unless proficiency is a job necessity, a high percentage of (US) high school grads cannot perform a series of simple mathematic maneuvers.

    I have a friend in the US who is not just an airline Captain, but ensures new pilots are up to the task and meet the requirements demanded by his employer.

    Retraining is one of his standard procedures because; “it is frightening that these kids are certified to obey a computer not actually FLY an airplane.”

  16. Diverdarren says:

    Lol, Harvey,. There are some people in my circle that I only want to text to. Clean, simple, definite duration and I can look at it when I want to.

    I like text.

    (Response: Look at it when you want to? How do you handle all the texts sent with minutes asking if you are there or if you got their texts or are you ok??? Or the hurt, feeling second class or rejected if you delay? LOL! h.o.)

  17. Gene The Bean says:

    Harvey – off topic but kudo’s for you, it seems you are right when you say the media follows your blog.

    Global ran a story today by Erica Alini that essentially repeats everything you said in your recent post “Immigration: US Loss is Canada’s Gain”

    They didn’t roast the stain that is Trump and the bigger stain that are the people that support him like you did but just read between the lines, it is there.

    The content and timing of your post couldn’t have been better and I guess Global concurs.

    Maybe you could text the author and enquire of you were the inspiration……

    (Response: Nah…won’t text them. But will watch and see who does a story soon pondering whether texting is getting out of control. h.o)

  18. 13 says:

    Gene referring to Trump as a Stain is pretty funny. Think of a laughing imooogy. Your name calling and labeling is probably unrivaled on the blog.

    (Edited…off topic. ho)

  19. Jay says:


    It is the natural evolution of communication.
    Way back when we had smoke signals and carrier pigeons.
    Then they invented morse code over wireless.
    Then came telephone.
    Then cel and fax and email and text and every other form of communication.
    Text is just easier sometimes then wasting time phoning or playing telephone tag.
    Why phone someone to answer a simple question when you can text.
    Should long drawn out conversations happen over text..probably not but then again maybe you don’t want others around you hearing what you are saying.
    Text is convenient. Text in some cases make saying something easier then speaking the words. Sad as that may seem it is the way things are these days.
    Text is cheaper. Again pretty sad but obviously this is what people like.
    When was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter to someone? It is a thing of the past but also for some a thing of intrinsic and personal value. It shows that you were willing to do so for them.
    Text messages while annoying and somewhat derivative do say to people that you care and are willing to take the time to write and send them. Yes a phone call would be better most times but the world is a much busier place and people can’t answer all the time. They would miss that call and those words. But a text will be there for them to read and smile at.
    I am a grandfather and still young enough to use text. I find it kinda annoying at times but when i can’t answer the phone or i really want to say something and no one is able to answer..it’s there for me. Like it or hate it, it has meaning and it is here to stay.

    (Response: No doubt here to stay: and sometimes it can be useful. However I have no doubt it has lost for us the benefits that come from personal voice communication .. and our society is colder and poorer for that. h.o.)

  20. BMCQ says:

    just in case you are away from Media Coverage of the Alberta Provincial Election I will have Bean Text you the Full Glorious Results !

    Tick Tock !

    See, Texting does have its use !

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