So, What's The Deal With Texting?

So ... what's the deal with texting?

I have some questions, with some amount of tongue pressed against cheek:

Is a text like a conversation? If someone texts you, are you obligated to answer right away? Or is it more like an email that you can sit on for a day or two? Maybe someone should write a rule book.

Is texting really writing? Or is it an art form for those expert at dehydrating meaning into 140 characters? Or better still, is texting even real language given all the groupings without vowels masquerading as words?

Is texting courteous? Isn't it really just a way to communicate to someone you don't want to talk to right now? Isn't it convenience at the expense of relationship?

Isn't texting kind of rude? Isn't it deciding to break into someone's life without being invited, expecting them to drop what they're doing - even break off a real conversation - and text you back?  

What about the dorky sounds that go off in purses, pockets, backpacks and briefcases? Hasn't texting become the mother of all interrupters in meetings, church services, and restaurants? 

And what's the deal with emoticons? What is/are emoji and who let it/them into my phone? And what's with the texts that end with rows and rows of this 3rd grade art? 

Seriously, texting has taken over, and is quickly changing the way we think and communicate.  Texting occupies the no-man's land between real writing and meaningful conversation. It requires none of the skill good writing demands, and neither does it incorporate elements of listing and understanding so necessary in meaningful conversation.

But it sure works ... whatever that means!

Not long ago my son was extolling the merits of a new app that will read incoming texts out loud. "Dad, this is so cool! When a text comes in, I hit this button and a voice speaks the message to me!" I cooly replied, "Son, long ago that app was called a phone!"

How ironic is it that we pay hundreds of dollars for a phone, capable of transmitting real-time voice communication, and then use it to send the equivalent of a telegraph message. You watch, someone is going develop an app that allows you to send dots and dashes on your smart phone. 

Okay, enough tongue-in-cheek. I'm not really against texting. I'm just having fun. But it just seems to me texting is slowly eroding our ability to write the kinds of letters and notes that once were the stuff of history and romance. It's not that texting is bad. It's just that texting doesn't exercise our writing muscles, and I'm afraid too many of them are starting to atrophy. I guess I'm just longing for those days when a text was a book instead of a sentence, and writing meant painting pictures with words rather than counting characters.

I may have found a wonderful use for texting however. Once in a while someone takes umbrage with my posts, and leaves me a lengthy diatribe intended both to disparage my family lineage, call into question my possession of a heart and/or brain, and educate me out of my idiocy. I'm thinking of making critics text their thoughts. After all, you can't dole out much hate in 140 characters.