Wednesday, October 10, 2007

These Newfangled Contraptions

I got a text message on my phone today.

This is probably not big news for most of you, but I NEVER get text messages. I've maybe gotten five of them in my entire life. A couple from my cell phone service provider and a couple spams, but that's it. This one was actually for me. It said, "Hola. This is your mother. END MESSAGE"

I totally didn't know what to do with this information. I know that eight-year-olds can text message with one hand while they do homework with the other and chat on the phone with their little headsets, but I had no idea how to go about returning the message. I am so out of touch. (God forbid that my kids ever get into texting because I'll be absolutely nonplussed about how to monitor them.)

See, my mom moved to Australia on Sunday, and I assume this was her attempt to contact me without a huge telephone bill. So I thought I'd give it a go. My first attempt to use the little keypad to compose a message resulted in something to the effect of, "Highi hijkltuv." And then I stopped.

I carried on with my day before I tried to go back and resend. Meanwhile, questions swirled through my head: Do I even have text messaging service? (Obviously I do.) Do I pay extra for it? (Probably.) How much do I pay for it? (No idea.) Am I legally required by some obscure text messaging law to use cute little acronyms and emoticons if I send my own? (Almost surely.)

I obviously HAVE a cell phone, but I honestly don't even know how many minutes I have on my plan because I only use about six of them a month and those are used making phone calls like the one I made to my husband this morning as I was pulling out of the driveway: "Hi, Alex. I put a bag of trash from the car in the driveway and Sam wanted me to call you to make sure that you put it in the trashcan because he was worried that I am littering."

It wasn't until a few months ago that I was even able to program names and numbers into my phone. Before then I just memorized the numbers I called (home), and typed them in. I thought since I had mastered that, that I would be able to compose a simple text message, but apparently I can't.

Hours later I finally texted, "Hi how r u" to an unknown number. It sure wasn't my mom's. But it was where the original message came from. Is it some special texting number? Did she borrow a phone to send it? Am I texting some complete stranger that somehow managed to convey my mom's personality in a two-sentence text message to me? And how do you put a question mark in a text message anyhow?

You should be impressed that I managed to even use "r" and "u" as shorthand. A friend of mine emailed me a few months ago and included the acronym "KWIM." I emailed her multiple times with increasingly frantic questions culminating with, "NO, REALLY, WHAT THE HELL DOES KWIM MEAN?! I HAVE TO KNOW!" For those of you like me, it apparently stands for "Know what I mean?"

But, don't worry, I have a plan to get up to speed. Because I made it to age 34 with only five text messages to my name, I figure I won't get too many more before my kids get old enough to figure out how to text, and at that point, I will make them explain it to me. And I plan to say this a lot, and loudly: "These kids these days with their newfangled contraptions. I swear, what will they come up with next?"

Stimey has managed (but just barely) to also cross-post this at DC Metro Moms.


  1. I'm 35 and you're way ahead of me with the phone thing. I can turn it on, make a call, answer a call, and hang up. Mine has a camera. No clue how to tak a picture. I get messages. I gave up trying to get them, I tell folks only to leave them so my phone knows someone called (it tells me if I have a message when I open it up, and fortunately, the number that called). Phones are supposed to be for my convenience, to relay information to others, or to turn on if I am awaiting information. All this other stuff is inconvenience.

  2. Ha, ha! This is so funny because just this weekend my 17-year-old stepson rolled his eyes at me when I asked him how to text message and then proceeded, ve-ry slow-ly, to explain it. Like I'm a martian. An old, deaf, martian. Though I might just be, because I still don't get it. Funny post.


    Work that one out. Took me months.

    Oh it gets worse. My girls and husband were laughing at a tshirt written in HTML..... I had NO IDEA what it meant (there is a picture of it in my 100 things post on the top of my blog if you want to see it. I don't know how to put a linky-ma-bob in comments, see I am an even bigger loser)

    And apparently the cool kids are moving away from text talk and more into words they think others don't understand... like disestablishmentarianism. Idiots, don't they realise that we invented those words to confuse the baby boomers?

  4. u r 2 funny

    ITA, texting is hard



  5. I didn't realize I had text messaging until a few months ago. So here's my embarrassing text messaging story... I didn't know how to clear typing mistakes, so at the end of my messages sent to my sister, I would have a random string of letters. When I finally talked with her, she asked if she was too old to know what my letters meant. Ha Ha!! She has always been the "cool" one and now she's even "cooler" because her computer/text messaging illiterate sister can't even erase!

  6. The interweb has the answers and there is a handy compilation so you too can be hip and with it.

    ~civics nerd

  7. Oh, Mr. Civics Nerd, you are my new hero. Now I finally know what ROFLMAO means. I didn't get the MAO before. And I used that website to decode Canape's message.

    I think I may just start writing posts entirely in code.

  8. I love it! I guess I should consider myself lucky that I can text and I know some (A bit) of the lingo - but I DO work in IT so it would be way embarrassing if I couldn't figure out the basics.
    My Mom drives me crazy with it because she believes everything she gets in an email - but she's 78, has her own computer, can email and do remedial searches. Pretty good I'm thinking! But - she still dials her cell phone the old fashioned way and talks so loud I think she still believes she has to compensate for the miles - with volume!!


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