Text messaging has killed etiquette. It’s just that simple. The convenience of being able to quickly shuttle over brief responses to questions that need immediate attention, has replaced the vastness of emotions that were never meant to be reduced to the spectacle of crowded emojis.
Imagine receiving a message at almost midnight that cancels plans that are supposed to commence in less than five hours. The swiftness of its abrupt arrival — followed by the shabbily worded explanation that doesn’t explain much at all.
Back in 1999 — there would’ve been an apologetic phone call — delivered in a timely fashion that convincingly makes the case as to why the proposed meeting must be re-scheduled. Both parties would make the effort to agree on future plans — and the inconvenience of having to honor a future date — wouldn’t feel like a hard slap across the face.
Even blossoming romances aren’t allowed to fully bloom under the strokes of keys that have replaced the sweetness of fingertips tracing sensitive layers of skin or lips, that move to utter the words that inch closer and closer to unbreakable bonds.
We now rely on over-priced devices to do the dirty work, and absolve us of the guilt that should haunt us when we decide to callously shatter love affairs. We prefer to expend energy researching the best angles for revenge selfies, to wow the faceless, while engaged in a texting war with family and friends who deserve way more than thoughtless characters — hurriedly sent in an effort to lessen further interaction.
The era that pre-dated the art of texting contained people who were trained to be human.
Beating hearts weren’t just a sign of life, it was also the rise and fall of the tempo that reacted to tears stumbling down cheeks of joy or sorrow. The ability to have that face to face, that can’t be avoided because it’s that important. The phone call that can’t wait because frivolities will never compensate for the devastation exacted when voices crack under the pressure of silence at the end of the line.
Texting makes it so easy to robotically skim though the terrain of life’s challenges, that involve complex systems — needing a reboot without mountains of charges and the cables that can sometimes switch sides to encompass non-related gadgets.
We hold on to hard cold surfaces more than we hold hands. We scroll through screens of dialog more than we’re treated to loving exchanges from mouth to eyes. We send out empty promises and pink-tinted lies more than we utter a genuine monologue — that can bridge the gap that no amount of short-circuited data can sufficiently display.
How do we learn to talk to each other again with the level of respect and dignity that can assure the purity of blood that flows through our veins hasn’t been tainted by the toxicity of batteries and the electricity that holds the authority to relieve the red symbol of messaging purgatory.
How do we learn to feel those feelings that used to hold us hostage until the holy release of footsteps down the block to the door of reckoning — when the presence of mind allows the nightly winds to blow you closer to the heaving chest of empathy — that could never stitch the wounds that remain open — even after the collage of data registers as “delivered.”
The assignment of relations deepens when the foes meet up for battle and swing with massive blows until the destroyer forgives the destroyed. Early lovers can creep around the interfaces of discovery without relaxing on sore fingertips to design the sonnets of what will never be. Mismatched friends used to be able to match up over debates that didn’t have to compete with blinking lights loud vibrations for attention.
You could be a decent person with manners and possess the foresight of protecting the ones that matter from the terror of receiving a damning lit up screen in the middle of the night — that crazily decided to alert you about something that was meant for someone else — about you.
You’re just the phone number that was assigned to you, without the personalized endorsement. And the messages find you with hearts attached. And all you want to do is break them.