Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fingers of Fury

You may have seen in the news recently how New Jersey has just enacted a law that bans text messaging while driving. I can't say I disagree with the law - because just about every day you see 'that guy' driving way too slow in the center lane, and swerving like he's just had 9 Jack Daniels. As you drive by him (cursing like a sailor) - invariably he's got his nose down and both hands on his phone, composing another witty one-liner. If I ever get sideswiped by an 18 year old girl texting her bff, 'lol - omg, i luv avril lavigne' .......someone's going to get slapped. Just a warning.

east coast mark has long been undecided on text messaging - but it's just not going away people, so everyone is going to have to jump on board at some point. Remember how you had that one friend who was holding out on getting a cell phone...because he wasn't sure it was going to catch on? And it was cool for awhile...but then eventually, he was just the last sad person that didn't have a cell phone. I'm not advocating any lifestyle changes (don't turn yourself into a 14 year old texting freak show) - but at least familiarize yourself with the technology. Editor's Note: Not you mom, we're still working on mastering e-mail and the cell phone. One new technology per decade.

I actually find text messaging to be a fairly simple and easy way to communicate, and frankly I've found myself using it in professional situations more and more - typically dropping notes to customers or quickly conversing with colleagues. "Can we meet at 3:30 instead of 3:00?" is much easier and quicker to type out than getting sucked into a 10 minute phone call and voicemail trap.

However, with the new ban on texting while driving - I got to thinking about what other texting laws and etiquette should be enacted. Here's a few that spring to mind.

1.) You can't dump anyone by text message. Flirting is fine. Asking someone out is marginal. But dropping the 'it's not you - it's me' on them still has to be done in person.
2.) Common courtesy still reigns. Composing a text message while in a one-on-one conversation with someone is no different than taking a phone call mid-conversation.
3.) Drunk texting is the new drunk dialing. There's a term I've heard called 'text shame'; for when you wake up the next day and cringe at the text messages you sent in your overnight stooper. Drunk text in moderation, for all our sake.
4.) Be aware of tone. It's pretty tough to interpret tone from a one line message - so be aware that your innocent comment might be perceived that you're proposing marriage or looking to start a fight.
5.) Stay away from abbreviations - leave that to the kiddies. Remember that Cingular commercial? "OMG - INBD. IDK, My BFF Jill." Use your big boy words.
6.) Be conscientious of others' schedules. Don't assume that because you are awake, working, not busy, or sober that the person you're texting is as well.
7.) If it's immediate - just call me.
8.) When you're at a party, sitting in the corner and texting frantically is a sure-fire way to look like Gollum. We all know you're having a text-war with your boyfriend or whatever - but how about shaking off the anti-social creepy vibe for a few minutes and playing some beer pong?

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