Less texting? We need to talk


Relax, this photo is from 2011. (Pat Wellenbach/AP)

Distressing news: If current trends continue, as the New York Times Bits blog notes, the average number of texts sent per month by Americans will — for the first time — decrease.

What’s wrong, America?

Don’t make me come in there and talk to you.

I thought we had an agreement. I thought that every phone user had come, independently, to the realization that the worst possible use of a cell phone or smartphone or whatever device happens to be humming in your pocket was to talk to another human being. It's a waste.

“You’ll always be a little disappointing in person,” Mel Brooks said, “because you can’t be the edited essence of yourself.” That is the magic of texting. You can be the edited essence of yourself until the precise moment when you show up at the restaurant. And by then it is too late. And if actual human contact goes rather poorly, you can dash to the restroom and send a series of frenetic texts to the people who still believe in you.

So the idea that we would stop texting now, in our moment of triumph, strains my credulity. We have reached the point where people say “LOL” and “GIF” (Word of the Year!) out loud, repeatedly, in actual life. And they do so without irony!

The piece goes on to note that it is not — thank the Maker — that we are talking more. It seems more likely that we have discovered that other services allow us to communicate in lines of text without texting fees. This comes as a great relief. As long as we haven’t started talking when typing will do. After all, we need all our communications to be searchable for the FBI in case we become high-profile officials and want to have an affair.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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