on texting

April 1, 2013

Within a decade or less, texting has swept the world.
The question no one asks let alone answers, is why?
What is texting with such deep appeal for so many people?

99.99%+ of all humans lived before the internet or before cellphones and texting. But we wonder how we could possibly lived without these things. But if you do not think you could live without something, like texting, when you obviously could, then you also obviously don't know what it is.

This is a peculiarity of texting: People do not think it makes much of a change at all, but at the same time think they could not live without it.

Perhaps it has altered life, so what we think of as live necessarily involves cellphones and texting. There are, after all, many artificial things we do not think we can live without.

For all its visibility, this is not an easy question to answer.


  • shows us we can talk and do pretty much everything else
  • indicates there is something about that world that does not fully engage most of us
  • most of our activities, including talking to others, can be done with partial attention.
  • texting 1s one more reason not to be here now. (Texting: be there now!)
  • texting is one more way to keep the world small — and preoccupied
  • people have a huge excess of chattiness
  • texting also demonstrates our tremendous need to connect.
  • perhaps in a crowded, sexual world with no contact, texting relieves a tension. It's like traveling alone vs. traveling with someone.
  • texting is one step closer to telepathy.

As a matter of fact, I should text myself right now to see how I am doing.


With the growth of texting staring into space is becoming a lost art.

Texting, together with our other tools makes us a writer. We are constantly carrying a little typewriter around you. (How hip is that.)

Texting, together with our other tools makes us an actor. We write our response as a script. Texting is the more thoughtful you. You are not put on the spot and respond in a fully spontaneous way.

Do we fear our own spontaneity? and being ourselves?

Did we always?

Texting is a new solitude. NO one interrupts on a phone call, or your laptop involvement. A laptop does not even have the signal of a book-cover.

And why must we hide from each other? Why is it too hard to engage? (That's a whole other ramble.)

But all or most of what I have speculated could be true (more important for some people, less important for others), but it still does not explain (1) how something as small and peculiar as texting could become essential within a decade.

Surely we did not walk around wanting such things to make us happy? No one knew this in the 90s.

(2) And how can this happen so nonconsciously?

The answer to the first question points that our notion of life and of being human is highly superficial, and in this area too we are rather clueless. We do not navigate with consciousness or with reasons.

The answer to the second question points to how much we are at the mercy of our environment (if it makes you feel better, call it "culture") without being much aware of that fact.

I suppose our culture does not encourage us to do that.

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