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By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, February 17, 2008

have you noticed that young people these days are idiots. and by young people, i mean people under 35. rather than make a phone call or send an email, they will tap out text messages to each other on their cellphones, a process similar in efficiency to typing while wearing arctic mittens. believe me, i know. i am typing this column on my cellphone.

i decided to try this after reading about how a woman in japan wrote a bestselling novel on her cell. my first thought was, why would anyone do that. but then i realized why. its so people would buy a crappy book just because they couldnt believe someone actually wrote it on an f word ing cellphone. her novel was filled with lols and brbs other abrvs that make it ez 4 u 2 rite qik.

i refuse to do that, because then i would feel like i should be writing things like OMG!! kaitlyn told brandon that ashley likes tyler!!! so, on the few occasions i do text message, the only concession i make is that i dont use capitals or apostrophes or question marks or hyphens because they take an extra keystroke and when one is typing with ones thumbs one wants to conserve keystrokes. it pains me to realize that mankinds signature anatomical adaptation, the one that distinguishes us from the lowly beasts, has been pressed into service for such a moronic chore. its like using a stradivarius to hammer a nail.

so, texting is stupid. but do you want to know what is stupider. to get this column published, i have to email it to myself every 30 words.

at least my new cellphone has a full qwerty keypad. most of my young friends have to send their texts on ordinary phone keypads, meaning they must write by tapping out messages like morse code, using a system that is completely maddening, and when i say completely maddening i mean completely maddening to ME because they are still able to write faster than i can. these young people also inform me that getting a text message from me, with all the words spelled out, even long, complex ones like concupiscence, provides an indelible clue that the sender is a constipated old fogy, a clue every bit as definitive as if i had begun my message by saying most esteemed sir or madam and ended by saying, with the honour of remaining your obedient servant . . .

the one person i really do like to text message is my editor, tom the butcher. my reason takes a little explanation.

because tom edits this column, i will not be permitted to describe him as a cantankerous old two fisted tightwad, but let us just say that he is prudent in marshaling his financial resources. tom has a modern cellphone but, because he is an old fogy like me, he doesn't have much use for text messages, and because of his aforementioned perfectly reasonable frugality, he has chosen a calling plan that does not pay for texts, meaning that every text he does receive costs him a lot.

the problem for tom is that if he gets a text message from me, he cannot ignore it, inasmuch as i am frequently getting into various smartass related professional scrapes that require his bailing me out or at least ducking for cover. so he has to take my text messages, which invariably read something like, hey, tom, this is a text message.

another one i have used to good success is, hey, tom, i just wanted to let you know that i am on the metro. i am going someplace and i hope to be arriving at my destination soon.

for this reason and this reason alone, i think i could learn to love texting.

Gene Weingarten can be reached at weingarten@washpost.com.

Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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