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July 31, 2006

Get Your Text On: A Joey Headset Guide to Text Messaging

Back in the day, cell phones were rare. Even the smallest ones weighed over 10lbs and the only people who needed them were drug dealers and stock brokers. These days, cell phones are everywhere! They weigh less than 10 ounces, and the only people who need them are drug dealers and stock brokers. Some things never change.

But you don't need to need a mobile phone in order to enjoy one! In fact, it isn't even necessary to have a working mobile to reap the benefits. Last week I managed to break my phone ("accidentally" slammed it against the wall), but I'm still getting great use out of it! I talk very loudly into my phone in restaurants, fiddle with it endlessly when people are trying to talk to me... and I don't have to pay any monthly charges!

However, there are a few advantages to owning a functional cell phone. The most notable advantage is Text Messaging, also known as Short Message Service (SMS) or simply Texting. Sure, you can "make phone calls" on your phone, but that is so 2005. Why talk to someone on a phone when you can spend half an hour typing out annoying little messages to them? Other than the fact that the former is useful and convenient and the latter is useless and a massive pain in the ass, I can't think of a single reason why one would opt for voice telephony over neo-telegraphy.


Though "texting" is unquestionably AWESOME, text n00bs often have some questions about how the whole thing works. "Do I have to pay extra on my calling plan for Text Messaging?" "Really? How much do I have to pay?" "Seriously, they actually expect me to PAY for this service?". These are all excellent (and very common) questions. I can't answer any of them. Sorry. Go ask Catherine Zeta-Jones over at T-Mobile. She seems to be pretty up on this stuff.

For those of you who don't mind jacking up your monthly charges $0.10 at a time, you may have more practical questions. "I own a Sprint/Samsung m250 camera phone and I need to know how I get to the texting menu from the main options menu." Sorry, I can't help you there, either. You should probably head to the nearest shopping mall and see if you can track down a 14-16 year old girl who has the same model phone as you. Teenage girls are master Textnicians, and are always happy to teach "creepy old dudes" the Texting Arts. Of course, they will probably be too busy to actually talk to you, instead opting to communicate via text messages on your phone. For you -- the txt-neophyte -- this may be a problem, for obvious reasons. Also, I would be irresponsible if I didn't mention this: one should be careful when stalking teenage girls in public places. Mall security doesn't always have the greatest sense of humor about this sort of thing.

Once you learn how to access the SMS function on your phone, you'll need to get some practice. Don't worry if you're "all-thumbs"... because thumbs are the only appendages you need when it comes to Text Messaging (also hitchhiking)! Nimble thumbs will allow you to communicate at a furious rate of 7 or 8 Words Per Minute, just like the pros. Also, if you are looking to increase your texting speed, you can learn "txtspk" -- an abbreviated version of English. You know, English: the language of Shkspr. In txtspk, his famous line: "To be or not to be, that is the question." would translate to "2 b o not 2 b dat iz d :-Q." In this case, txtspk has shortened the original phrase from 32 characters to only 18. That's a 56% increase in texting efficiency and only a 214% decrease in message intelligibility -- a bargain any way you look at it. Here is another bit of famous Shksprian verse, from King Lear. See if you can translate it to txtspk yourself:

"O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;"

Here's the correct translation:

"O rsn nt d nEd: r bsst bgrz
R n d prrst tng sprflzz
Low n n@t4R m5&* tn n@t4R ndz
MnZ L()4 #)H $#@ek#kj"

Beautiful AND efficient. If only Wlm S. had possessed a mobile phone and a working knowledge of txtspk. Think of all the extra plays he could have written!


Now you know everything you need to Get Your Text On in style. Stretch out those thumbs and text everyone you know! But don't bother texting me. My phone is still broken... and I'm planning on keeping it that way.

Posted by Joey at July 31, 2006 01:01 PM

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