Thursday, May 10, 2012

Text Buffering

Like everybody else, I have rules and 'buffers' for sending text messages. You know what I mean, you receive a text and you don't respond right away for no particular reason other than to appear 'cool' or something.

Say you've just met someone and the two of you are planning a date. Of course you don't respond to a message right away, or else you'll seem too eager or desperate, or both. Not only that, you have to decide how long to wait before texting once you've gotten their number. Things get even more complicated when you've 'met' someone through an online dating site like OK Cupid because the other person can see when you log in and can assume when you've received their message, and thus their number.

I can understand the dating head games. Those are nothing new. The movie Swingers summed up the rules for calling girls in the '90s (three days, for those interested), and I'm sure there have been unwritten rules ever since the introduction of the telephone. Hell, I'll wager a cool hundred that even in the days of telegrams there were rules about how quickly to respond to 'callers' both gentleman and lady. Surely there must be some yellowing  pamphlet with rules for courtship by telegraphy out there somewhere?

It's not just dating, though. I buffer everyone. Everyone. Everyone else seems to do it, too. I have one friend who is epically terrible at texting, who literally takes days to respond to the simplest queries. And of course, like an idiot, I always wait days to respond back. All of this is for no reason whatsoever; maybe the two of us are trying to seem cool to each other? As if we're too busy to, basically, acknowledge someone else's -- a friend's! -- attempt to get our attention. Objectively, though, we're morons. I know exactly what both of us are doing: mostly nothing (I can see your Facebook posts, you dunce!).

In fact, I'm betting that's the impetus behind most text buffering. We have all this technology to make our lives simple, so that we have more free time, and these gadgets are supposedly so amazing for communication, yet in reality we mostly use them to pretend at being too busy for communication.

This leads to another bane of my existence: neverending text conversations. I can't stand this, it's my main gripe about texting. I feel like I'm constantly involved in at least three conversations that never, ever end. If a person takes days to respond, then we've destroyed the general rule for knowing when an interaction is "over": when no one is talking, the convo has ended. Not so with texts! I mean, obviously you can't say "goodbye" because neither of you are present someplace where you can leave. Even chat rooms are more natural than texts. It also has the effect of making everybody seem like autistic children who can't read body language. For instance, if I type "Ha!" and nothing else in response to something, I feel like I'm making it clear that I'm through with my half of this transaction. In the real world, everyone picks up on this cue. If I laugh at something someone says, that person almost never expects me to say anything else.

Le sigh. On and on it goes. Welcome to the future, where a conversation that should take no more than two minutes on the phone is now stretched out over days because we have so little to do with ourselves and don't want anyone to know. Nothing gets done efficiently. It's like waiting for a god damn carrier pigeon.

Me: What was the name of that band you told me to check out?

Three days pass...

"Friend": Goodbye Bikini Island.

Three days...

Me: What the hell are we talking about?