This New Year’s Eve, I received seasonal text messages from the following far-flung locations: Putney, somewhere in Kent, Bristol, Bolton, Doncaster, Munich, Johannesburg, New York and Kyoto. Truly, my worldwide network of friends and relations is shockingly cosmopolitan.
The ‘nu yr txt’ (see what I did there?) seems to have become the 21st century version of the annual Christmas card, in which some distant relative writes out the same words time after time, detailing the academic achievements of their offspring and promising to get in touch soon to meet up for a drink (whereupon you don’t hear from them for another twelve months). Of course, text messages are much shorter, and thankfully unable to contain much more than a few words of greeting, which is fine by me.
I don’t wish to decry the text messages I received, because although I was fast asleep at midnight — having once again gone to bed early to avoid the horrendous social stigma of being home alone on December 31 (no, please don’t pity me) — I was exceptionally grateful to find all the sealed envelope graphics queued up on my phone when I woke up this morning. They managed to bring a warm glow even to my increasingly hard heart. It means that people were thinking of me, even if I was just another name on a long distribution list.
For me, the problem occurs when sending or replying to such messages. Unlike, I sense, most practical and time-efficient people, I don’t repeat send just one simple and straightforward text message at this time of year. Oh no. Instead, I’ve just spent well over half an hour clicking around my phone’s tiny keypad in order to craft individual replies to each recipient — even though each message says more or less the same thing, with a few variations: “Happy new year! Must get together in January!” (followed, of course, by a radiantly beaming smiley). I’m sure that this is closely related to my anally retentive attitude towards employing proper grammar and complete English words, without ever resorting to the dreaded ‘text speak’.
I predict that 2005 will find me as constantly amazed by my over-analysis of 160 characters of text as I have been since the very first time I picked up a mobile phone. How incredibly fortunate, then, that one of my vague resolutions for the new year is to get out more.