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It’s only been some 25 years since the very first text message was typed, sent, and delivered. The year was 1992. The text message: “Merry Christmas”. The sender: Neil Papworth, who was a software developer at a company called Sema Group Telecoms. It was typed using a computer keyboard and not the cell phone keypad that we’ve all grown familiar to using. The lucky recipient: Richard Jarvis (Vodafone) The exact date: September 21st, 1992.

Whenever a new technology is released, or made available for mass consumption by modern society at large, the benefits are almost immediate, and immediately obvious. The downside(s) can sometimes take months, years, even decades to manifest. The reality is that there is almost always a downside to technological advancement in one way or another. It’s just a part of your morning omelet, a tiny piece of broken eggshell in your separated egg white liquid. Just like technology itself, once text messaging was acknowledged and then consumed, the downside(s) quickly became a reality to the most thoughtful of users, and slowly became manifest to almost all users, although largely understated in expression.

There are some unfortunate realities to the modern ‘convenience’ of Text messaging. In fact text messaging is in many ways the archetype example of the mostly understated, and definitely unintended, consequence(s) of technology in the modern world. Idiots Guides has identified and isolated what we consider the ‘BIG 3’ unintended ‘Consequences’ and/or ‘Realities’ of the Text Message, specifically in consideration of their impact or lack of, on modern relationships.

A.   Text Messages are Limited forms of Expression.

It can easily be argued, and with the full force of conviction that Text Messaging has been a wonderful vehicle in the modern garage of communications. This is true. Also true is that it is meant to be an ‘additional’ and/or ‘extra’ tool in the ever important realm of interpersonal communication. Not a replacement for interpersonal communication. Communication between human beings has always been an evolving (in theory) mixture of three, four, sometimes five levels of verbal, and/or non verbal tools that humans posses. These in addition to the vastly understated, certainly under-appreciated, power of physical, visual cues.

There is not now, or likely ever to be a text message where either user can get an accurate ‘feel’ for what a persons eyes are saying, or their body language, or even if those cues match what the actual typed message reads. You can’t pick up a subtle ‘roll of the eyes’ by reading a text. You can’t hear any perceived lack of conviction in a person’s voice when making plans. Not by simply reading a text. In the event that you can, it is more than likely to be in conjunction with other cues, and never be simply reading a series of texts.

So what people end up doing is assigning their own thoughts, insecurities, and meanings to others texts messages. Often, missing the actual intent or inclination of the original text and the level of the senders sincerity, or if it was simply meant to be light hearted, but misspelled or incorrect ’emoji’.

In other words, many people are just guessing at times. By applying meanings about what they think they know, and not necessarily what the text actually means in reality…the truth of it. Therefore..Text Messages are a Limited Form of Expression.

B.  Texting Documents Inconsistencies, 1/2 Truths, and LIES.

The fact of the matter is that if you actually care about the person and/or persons who make up the ‘other’ 1/2 of the communication link, then when things get sticky and/or strained, you will go back and re-read the text history. You will. You have. We all have. You’ll do it again after reading this. What some of us find are patterns of inconsistencies, and/or things that don’t make sense, and/or a text that you might have missed in the fury and fog that is a text message war…a text that would have or could have changed things…but you missed it. And it’s too late to respond…now.

There is also the issue of dishonesty. When you lie via text it now exists in tech black and white, and cannot be argued as a word never spoken, or misheard. You typed and texted it. Now they have it. Date and time stamped. Fasten your seatbelt. They use these (texts) in open criminal court (and other courts). I wonder if some people understand this? It’s difficult to be sure. I’ve seen some not too bright examples in my personal experience, largely because I happen to have a photographic type memory, and because I’m a ‘knowsy’ person in general.

I catch people being inconsistent and or dishonest all the time. Using nothing but common sense and their own typed messages. 9 times out of 10, I’ll just let it slide for the greater good of the friendship. (That 10th time, however, is different. It was never the last straw that broke the camels back…it was the million other straws underneath it. ) When I walk away, I really walk. There are limits to everything in life, up to and including patience and understanding. It’s not a good look. Especially when expired because of the less than appreciative.

You see, people who are involved in some form of dishonesty often forget to match their text deception with their verbal deception. This is another example of why they say it’s better to tell the truth: “It’s the easiest thing to remember.” Besides that, when caught in a bad lie it never really feels worth doing in the first place, does it? Although, I could be wrong. I’m probably not.
Text messages can re-open old wounds, or create new ones.

C.  Texting should NEVER be Used in Litigating Relationships

Ever. Never. Ever. Unfortunately, they are used far too often, in ending relationships of all kinds and that run the spectrum from plutonic friendship to serious dating. It is never the right tool to use in ending a relationship (unless there is a reasonable fear of physical drama) That said, texting was never meant to substitute physical human interaction. Ever. If a person can’t bring themselves to look their friend and/or lover in the eye when proposing, or stating the desire to dissolve the relationship, then what does that say about respect for that person? Human Respect demands certain things, not the least of which is the ‘Golden Rule’ you know…”Do onto others as you would have done onto you.” I know I don’t like ending things that way, it’s impersonal, rude, and the exact way someone would reasonably expect to be treated by a stranger, not a friend. I certainly don’t like to be dealt with that way either, do you? Better to remain silent. Give negative emotions a chance to subside, than to make angry declarative statements regarding the health and/or existence of a relationship…via Text Message. This will always be true unless your relationship was 100% started and 100% maintained via texting and the parties NEVER met in person, ever before. I would argue that those are special circumstance relationships, and not what I am talking about here (although, there are other severe issues at play in those cases). The same goes with the dreaded (in my case) ‘Text Message’ War. Fighting with someone via texting is probably the worst thing I can think of among the many bad things about relationship disagreements.

1st of all someone is going to either die in a car wreck, or kill someone else in a car wreck, because of a relationship text war. I know, because I’ve almost done or come close to experiencing both, my damn self. Hands free driving doesn’t matter if your emotions have you ‘seeing red’. Emotions that are blinding you, your driving judgement and/or behavior, can and will kill people if not yourself…in a wreck. Text messaging was never designed for either relationship defining conversations while driving, or relationship defining conversations and/or litigation, period. End of story.

In my experience, I’ve found that an overwhelming majority of people CHOOSE to make time for the people they WANT to make TIME for, even and especially, at the expense of all other people in their lives deemed less valuable or consequential, in whatever way, and by whatever estimation. If you find yourself in a relationship and/or friendship where actually seeing each other is for sure possible, yet rarely if ever occurs, even when possible, something is wrong. When texting is not only the primary, but the sole method of bonding, and/or consistent substitute for actual ‘face time’ with someone who ‘cares about you’…Something is definitely not right in Denmark. It almost doesn’t matter what that ‘something’ is at that point, that it exists, is all that matters.

Bottom line is this: Text messaging can be awesome…Most of the time. It’s a profoundly convenient communications tool. As such it should be used judiciously, because it is extremely prone to human misuse. The best uses of texting are obvious, the worst can be a tragic many, among them personal disrespect. However, over time, and with the same mastery as one gains on the human road to wisdom, texting can improve lives and relationships of all kinds.

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Thanks for Reading
Ralphael Prepetit
Editor in Chief

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