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Opinion

Text-messaging out of control; common courtesy disintegrated

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November 29, 2007

To some extent, the following article is an open letter to the victims of a dangerous addiction poisoning my generation: text messaging.

We’ve discussed the topic a couple times before in the Student Voice, mainly debating its place in the classroom. But the perfidious stench of text messaging does not only permeate the halls of our University, it has infested our movie theaters, our restaurants, our homes and more.

A few Fridays back, I had the splendid opportunity to see comedian Michael Ian Black at the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis. I’ve mentioned him before in this column, and those who know me well can attest to how excited I was to see him live.

As expected, the show was all shades of groovy. However, some 16-year old punk-ass high-schooler to my immediate right almost made me commit my first felony by sending several hundred text messages throughout the show.

It all started when we found our seats; my friend Dave and I sat and talked excitedly about the upcoming performance when I noticed the little puke to my right was diverting all his attention to a steely-blue Nokia instead of his dad. The poor father sat in awkward silence next to his son, frozen in the uncertainty of the moment.

When a kid so contemptuously reduces his father to a level lower than that of a few abbreviated words on a two-inch screen, I get sad.

This went on for 20 or 30 minutes, a span of time that saw me draw bitter and unpromising conclusions about “kids these days.”

When the lights dimmed and Ian Black finally took the stage with several devastating and hilarious jokes, the dad-hating phone-junkie continued shooting off messages containing such Pulitzer-worthy prose as “lol no fukin way omg this guy is hella funny.”

The theater was bathed in shadowy darkness except for the piercing white of this kid’s phone. And I realized how often I’d had this very experience in movie theaters as well.

It seems that people think texting anywhere is acceptable. They don’t realize how distracting it is when people are trying to enjoy a one-time experience like a Michael Ian Black comedy show.

Text-messaging may be quieter than talking, but it instantly identifies you as a douchebag with no attention span.

I can be having an involved conversation with someone, and invariably, if their phone makes a text-message beep, it’s impossible for them not to read it.

In my book, texting is alright for sending quick, one-time messages—perhaps something like “I’ll be there at 6” or “Pick me up 7 pomegranates.” But when I see kids spending hours having text-message conversations, sending upwards of sixty or seventy texts in a short period of time, it drives me up the wall.

When your texting addiction seduces you into reading and sending messages in a movie theater, at a show or during a real-life conversation (they all used to be real-life conversations), you know something is wrong.

Or maybe instead of interacting with your mom or dad for real, you can just text message them: “lol omg mom & dad i totally hella-heart u but I don’t have time to talk to u anymore.”

Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.