This week’s InfoNews column is up and it’s about my experience quitting social media for a week. It was horrible, FYI (the week, not the article I hope.) You can read it HERE.
The moment I saw my iPhone hit the layer of Hello Kitty bubble gum scented bubbles on top of the 98 degree water, I saw my life flash before my eyes.
First of all, yeah, I did just happen to pick 98 degrees out of a hat because of the Nick Lachey band. So what?
Second of all, I know the super hot ER doctor told me that for the sake of my vagina I shouldn’t use cheap bubble bath, but seriously? Bubble gum? I’ll take that risk.
Anyway, there I was, dancing around in the bathroom to new Kenny Chesney, plugged into my ear buds when — whoops — my pop and lock got out of control and busted the jack right from the hole. (Technical terms, people).
There went my phone, sailing through the air, and — bloop — right into the bubbling Hubba Bubba scented bliss-pot.
For a moment I stood there — naked and stunned — staring at the dangling white cord still swaying from the dance party, before reaching around and yelling a slow motion “NOOOOOO,” as I plunged into the tub after Siri.
I grabbed it and immediately bundled it in a hand-towel like a little baby Jesus. I didn’t grab rice, because in moments of panic the last thing you do is think about starches. I just sat there, cradling it against my chest like it was a frightened half-drowned daddy long legs.
And then . . . I put it down. I thought to myself meh, whatever.
It wasn’t even out of sheer exasperation — I was like meh over my apple product. Meh, I can get another one. Meh, they don’t charge me until next month’s bill. Meh, it’s just more money I don’t have. Meh, I can Facebook important people. Meh, Meh, Meh.
I was literally more Meh than miffed.
I read a “dating” article recently that explained then importance of the “fuck yes” law, basically stating that if you or another person aren’t all “fuck yes, I’m totally in,” that you’re wasting your time. Honestly, at the time I read it I was in total puppy love so I didn’t really realize it was actually talking more about life than dating.
But standing there — naked and stunned — in my bathroom, Kenny Chesney crooning country ballads into the riptide of my bathtub I realized that was it. If I was more Meh than miffed, what the heck was I needing the device for anyway?
I had a moment of fleeting freedom. I saw myself in Orlando, Florida with my $15 flip phone that I left on a toilet top in House of Blues one Sunday night. I saw myself laughing over pizza the next morning with people who I didn’t ever need a phone to get hold of. I saw myself dancing the night away under Tropical Storm Andrea (it was a thing that summer, Google it), and I saw myself not thinking for one brief moment that I would need to spend FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS on a new one.
Because I didn’t. Because I don’t.
I talked myself — in a span of 45 seconds — into thinking I was never going to use another iPhone again.
And when I uncradled my weeping daddy long legs from his baby Jesus swaddling . . . he worked.
So, clearly, I learned nothing.
I remember the conversation vividly — I was in the produce aisle looking for artichokes. I don’t cook, so I have no idea what artichokes look like, I just know they come in cheesy dip. You could say I had been there a while.
The text came in, accompanied by the iPhone notification noise that — depending on the day — can sound like a dog whistle straight from Satan.
“Can you pick up some homosexual milk and some strawberries?”
“Uh, sure mom. Do you want straight strawberries? Or . . .”
My mother, bless her, was just beginning to understand the perils of autocorrect. In an attempt to abbreviate the word “homogenized” she thought the iPhone would know that she — a middle aged children and youth counsellor — would not be attempting to slander the LGBTQ community by typing “homo.”
Oh, how wrong she was. Siri has serious political views and she’s all “no homo” whenever she can.
The thing about our love of the text message is the speed at which we like to rapid-fire off answers. We text for convenience and because we can do it while multitasking (and, depending on your local laws, driving). We do it for brevity and we do it for concise yes, no, two-per-cent-milk answers.
But, it all goes awry if we don’t proofread our 160 characters. Autocorrect or no autocorrect, rule number one of HNTT: No homo.
Our generation — the tech gen — has developed entire language systems surrounding the limited space we’re given to work with in our text screen. We say “LOL” instead of “hahahaha,” we say “BRB” instead of “gotta go, bye,” we say “!!!” to indicate thrill, “. . .” to indicate annoyance, “.” to indicate we’re more than a little ticked off and ALL CAPS to indicate we mean business.
Just like in the English language and its there/their/they’re’s, texting involves a lot of reading between the lines and trusting context.
New phone operating systems do the work for you and provide a slew of smiley faces (and they also provide — as a German friend of mine calls them — sad smiley faces, angry smiley faces, and confused smiley faces), but back in the day we had to use the text equivalent of HTML coding and do it ourselves. However, the infamous “: )” can go horribly awry if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing:
There is literally a group of people involved with Unicode who have the job of deciding what emojis should be created next. Presumably, part of that $700 you paid for your iPhone goes to them. They would be horrified at you. Rule number two of HNTT: leave it to the professionals.
So, you’ve mastered the art of sending two word replies and poop symbols. Congratulations! We’ve come a long way.
Now, you get to experience the text-happy syndrome the rest of us do. You are a slave to your phone, your carpel tunnel has returned for the first time since you took that secretary job in the ’70s and you know the difference between “I’m fine.” and “I’m fine!” Life is good, so you want to party.
Sure, mom. Blame your contacts. Rule number three of HNTT: Lay off the hooch.
And, there you have it! Three simple rules to make the lives of those who receive your text messages a little easier. And, let’s face it, you’re only texting your kids anyway — and you want them to like you.
xo & yw