I send a lot of texts from my mobile phone, and do not hesit8 2 use abbreviations. But at least these are my words - or wrds. I draw the line at "predictive texting", where the phone guesses what you mean to say and fills in the rest of the word for you. And I certainly draw the line at "text templates" - ready-made phrases to select and send instead of making up your own.
Jeanette Winterson on those 3 ltl wrds:
I have become fascinated - and horrified - by the Text Templates. Is this how we live, love, and use language now?
I'm not coming home for dinner. What does that mean, other than what it means? I'm having an affair? I'm leaving you? I'd rather do anything than eat your steak and kidney pie again tonight? The message sender clearly has a home, and someone in it who is doing the cooking, but the peremptoriness suggests that if the marriage isn't finished yet, it will be soon. If someone sent me that text I would leave the dinner on the back step on top of a copy of Oliver Twist - just to make it clear that there won't be any More.
I love you. Who is so busy that they cannot write those three necessary words? I love you is always a quotation, and it is the least original thing that any of us can say, but just as it must be often said, it must be sincerely said, and as if for the first time on a planet new-made from love. What shallow software programmer thought it appropriate to turn the stuff of life into a text template? I really worry about these total Left Brainers who foist their deeply unpoetic values on the rest of us in the name of efficiency.
I was at a dinner by mistake recently - by mistake because it was full of people who never read books and feel rather sorry for those of us who do - when a man who advises companies on how to be more efficient actually said without irony or embarrassment that an arts degree was useless to society. I pointed out that from where I was sitting, people who use phrases like “monetise the brand” are insensitive to language and to life. I hate the phoney word and I hate the Gradgrind spirit behind it. “Who is Gradgrind?” he asked.
Send your spare copies of Hard Times care of Times Books, please.
Monetise is not a word. I am all for new coinings but ask that they have some value. Finance types don't seem to understand that language is not signage - it is central to human life. By reducing a rich, robust and poetic language to signage, we impoverish our minds. Yet I could cope better with a text template that says How shall we monetise the brand? than with one that says Get Well Soon. How about one to text back that reads Drop Dead?
I love the speed and compactness of texting, and the playfulness of its zippy abbreviations. Yet tact, sensitivity, compassion, it does not do. If I want to say sorry to someone, the very least I can do is begin by tapping in those eight letters, and not scrolling past Call me at the office, and Merry Christmas, on the way to my inadequate apology.
Communication technology is all about My Shortcuts, and that makes sense in the office. It doesn't make sense in our personal lives. Love and happiness, worthwhile relationships, friendships, depend on time and effort, not the shortcut. We can't treat each other like something in the Inbox, because soon the things we value end up in the Outbox.
Let's not forget the Muslim text template, for men only : i dvrce u; i dvrce u; i dvrce u.