Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cn U TXT Me Now?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So I'm at my computer, in my study, happily writing away. My timer is set for 30 minutes. I am doing it! Yay! And then, from the dining room, PING! Someone has sent me a text.

I ignore it.

PING! The thing pings again, of course, because I didn't instantly answer it.

So, I'm thinking about texting. Yeah, its great for "I can't find you!" or "I am in the third row by the exit door. See me waving?"   Or "I'm late! Sorry!"  Or  "No onions, okay?" All good.

But the demanding tone of that ping drives me crazy. ANSWER ME NOW, it insists. And then we know the people on the other end are standing there, waiting for you to answer them because they want to talk to you, but if you can't talk to them right then--for very good reasons, whatever they are--then people are concerned, or upset, or annoyed. The other day in Florida, someone said to me--"I texted you! And you didn't answer. Are you okay?"

Am I okay? Yeah, I am okay, but I didn't want to answer right then. Because I was in the shower, and I missed it, and then I didn't instantly check for shower-time texts. I don't mean to sound cranky--do I sound cranky? I am truly not cranky. I am just wondering about the tyranny of texting.

Maybe I simply have to get used to it. Like the phone. I can EASILY easily ignore the phone. Maybe I have to learn to ignore texts. And texts have built-in messaging, right? Because when you text, you automatically leave a message!

So, yeah, brilliant. That's the answer. Think of a text as "leaving a message." And that the textee will get back to you asap. Really they will.

Reds, do you text? What do you think about it? Answer me NOW!

RHYS BOWEN: My granddaughter aged thirteen is the only one in her class who is not allowed her own phone. Recently her friend said to her "You are so lucky not to have a phone. You don't have to put up with all the drama. If someone texts me and I don't answer right away she gets so miffed."

I find texts really useful for updates, finding each other, as Hank said, but I rarely get or receive texts apart from that. And since I leave my cell phone in my purse when I'm home, a text can be three hours old and unanswered.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: The Tyranny of the Text--I love it! But not the text itself. I switched off the push email on my phone because the constant pinging drove me bonkers. It only takes a few seconds to check email if you think there might be something important. But you can't just switch off texts, because that's the whole point, right? It might be something important. But half the time when I'm out and about I don't hear them, so I tell my family if it's really important, CALL ME. And I hate auto correct, so texting is sometimes useful but not fun. When I'm writing I put the phone in the other room...

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  I used to put the phone on silent
when I worked, but then I would worry I was missing something important. So I downloaded tunes and gave each family member their own ring tone - easy to tell if it was The Boy needing a ride back from practice or something I could ignore for the time being. Of course now, my kids all text me, and I haven't figured out how to give them their own text tones. Is it even possible? Anyway, I agree with you, Hank. Texting is like leaving a message, as is voice mail: the person calling or texting can expect a response when it's convenient for me.

It sounds selfish, but I'm not going to text when I'm driving, or writing, or making dinner, or spending time with my husband. And I'm not going to return a call when I'm tired or distracted or when my head is stuffed with All The Things I Have To Do. I'm getting to the point where I'd much rather Skype than call, anyway. Am I the only person whose hand and arm gets cramped when talking for a long time on a cell phone? Did you ever think you would miss those clunky phone receivers, the kind you can tuck against your shoulder? Am I actually 88 years old? (Probably.)

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I have my phone's ringer off most of the time, but check it during regular intervals — really only for texts from the Kiddo. (Although texts range from "Went to the nurse because of asthma" to "Bored right now." Hubby and I text during the day to check in and also coordinate who's doing what after school and the dinner plans (who's cooking what, who's picking up what). My agent texts sometimes, because she knows I get things/do things faster with a text than a phone message. Basically, no one I know talks on the phone -- it's all texting and emailing now. Oh, except for Skype -- yes, Julia, Skype is great! I'm in Kansas City, MO on tour right now and Skype is a great way to keep in touch with the family! I love it when the cats will walk over the keyboard....

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm like Pavlov's dog when that text bell chimes... salivating for some exciting tidbit. The only people who text me are my kids and it's usually with a grandkid picture. But how did we ever travel without it? Three nights ago I flew into Newark and my sweet son-in-law was picking me up and we found each other by texting (I was at departures passenger pickup and he was at arrivals passenger dropoff.)

Also great for when you're meeting someone and one of you is running late... though am I the only one who thinks the ability to text makes it 'ok-er' to be late?

HANK: Oh, SO true! As if typing out  "traffic :-( " or "runninglate" makes it okay.  I guess it's the good news and the bad news. Because at least you know, and can stop worrying.

 I got a text the other night, when I was almost asleep.  I answered because it pinged, for gosh sake, and I adore her. Then she texted back: Wht R U doing awake?

How about you, reds and readers? Are you text-happy? Or R U NAF?  (Not a fan...)


  1. I must agree with Julia: I don't find cell phones comfortable for conversations of any length, so I almost never talk on my cell phone . . . the girls generally call me on the house phone, which gives me the option of chatting on the much-more-comfortable-to-use rotary dial phone.

    I am so not a phone fan . . . but texting is convenient for the girls, so [with a great deal of help from my daughter] I managed to get my cell phone to announce "message from" and the name of whoever is texting whenever someone sends a text. That makes it really easy to decide if I want to text back or if I just want to ignore it. I guess I like the convenience of the cell phone, but it definitely doesn't make the phone any more likeable.

  2. I'm always missing texts, too. Mostly my sons and I do short ones - "okay to call now?" for example, about our weekly long calls. But mostly I hate "typing" on my phone. If it's a message of any length I do it by voice - but then I have to go correct what it gets wrong. Give me a real keyboard any day. I also can't stand reading U for "you" - drives me nuts. Yes, Julia, I am also 88 and cranky as hell! And Hank, my text wouldn't wake me up - because I don't take the phone into the bedroom. All that said, I'm off to Indiana for six days and will be using my phone all the time!

  3. My phone lives in my handbag unless I'm out of the house or I am using it to take photos. I miss tons of texts, calls, FaceTime, etc. When I'm traveling, different story but I mostly check email and post on FB that I'm someplace more interesting than my house.

  4. And another thing-- I am in a cab right now in Pittsburgh on the way to the airport . The driver is texting as we drive--it's a traffic jam, yes, but it drives be crazy. I asked him to stop and he told me it was okay because of the traffic . Grrrrr.

  5. GRANDMA COOTIE - are you there? You won a book from me by commenting on my post last week! Please send your mailing address to edithmaxwellauthor at gmail dot com. And congratulations. ;^)

  6. My kids occasionally text me (are you watching the game? it is OK to call?) but Verizon feels free to text me with everybody's remaining minutes status, usually at 2am. We still have a 5 person family plan. Texting did come in handy when we were spread out all over the National Gallery in DC, and needed to leave together.

    Which is why my phone is buried in my purse, stuffed somewhere the local band of junkie burglars won't find it.

  7. My daughter once sent me a text while I was on my way to meet her. I replied while stopped at a light (where I still could've gotten a ticket for doing it). And she replied IF YOU ARE DRIVING DON'T TEXT!

  8. I do enjoy texting as a method of communication, but I think of it more as a message - I just don't have to turn on the computer and e-mail or leave a voice message. I rarely expect an immediate answer unless we are using it to coordinate a meetup or whatnot.

    I set my beep to only repeat twice. If I don't get to it in that time, it means that I am not able to and I don't want to hear the constant beep reminding me. I will see it eventually.

    What I am so over is people text/talking and driving. It's against the law in most places - and people still do it. "Oh, I'm really careful" they say. What if all criminals used excuses like that to break the law. "Sorry I broke into your house, but I was really careful about not shattering the glass."

    It's dangerous, it makes you drive erratic (fast,slow,swerve,repeat). DON'T DO IT!

  9. Sheesh! If Julia is 88 then I'm at least 100. I couldn't text if I wanted to, and I don't. My cell phone is a "stupid phone" for emergencies and travel only. No Skype. Then again, I don't have family to keep up with. But I have a confession to make here, since I've sounded off about it in the past. About six weeks ago I caved and went on Facebook (as Kaitlyn) and I'm actually enjoying it. Although I notice I am getting less writing done. And less book reading. Hmmm. I wouldn't want to give up modern communications, but since I long ago learned to let the answering machine screen calls, I can probably ignore pings, beeps and ringtones, too. It's that silent urge to check if anyone new wants to be my friend, or has liked my author page that's driving me round the bend.


  10. Hank, it's NOT okay because of the traffic. It's illegal. But you know that.

    Yes, Julia - you can assign a different text to each person. At least you can on the iPhone. Go edit the contact and you should see a field for "Text Tone." My husband, kids, father, and others all have different tones. That way, I know how fast I need to answer. A text from the kid or husband gets answered faster. If I'm writing and a kid text comes in, I'll at least look at it because it might be "I'm lying in a ditch." But if it's the "other" tone, well, I'll get to you. Eventually.

    Email has another tone. That one I can ignore for hours.

    Few people actually call me. I did, however, tell my husband that if it's likely I'm driving, he needs to call (because I won't look at my phone when I'm behind the wheel, but I can answer a call with the hands-free). Or if he texts and I don't get back to him within a couple minutes, and it's important, call me.

    What I hate is when the phone rings at night. I put my phone on "Do not disturb" between 10pm and 7am, but calls from favorite contacts still come through. And of course my immediate thought is, "Someone's in the ER."

  11. Texting.

    Cell phone.

    Home phone.

    Email and Facebook.

    Am I curmudgeon?
    oh, yeah

  12. I have one friend and we text the most random things to each other just to stay in touch. Pictures and links to web sites. And yes, Hallie, it's great for traveling, tight? I'm at the airport in DC now, going to Boston, and just texted Hubby, "At gate." And then we texted a bit about the weekend, etc. We get to talk without the whole waiting area knowing my business.

    In fact, now when I hear someone talking on the phone in a public place, I keep thinking, "Why aren't you texting?" There is a woman in my row right now saying she went to someone's house for dinner last night and there was no salad. NO SALAD! I don't need to be privy to this....

  13. I got hooked on texting by my (then) teenage children. It was the most dependable way to contact them. It still is, come to think about it. They often ignore voice mail messages, but eventually respond to texts.

  14. Having kids who travel all over the world, and an 85-year old mother who still drives herself (and younger family members) all over creation, I'm leery about missing any communications. I don't mind texting, but detest autocorrect with a passion. It changes the stupidest things, and lets ridiculous misspellings go through. Mystifying.

    You all do know you can turn the phone to silent or "do not disturb", right? And then you won't hear the ping at all.

    When my middle daughter was driving a travel van by herself across Europe for several months last year, we communicated via something called Voxer. It's a cross between voicemail, text and walkie-talkie, so you can chat in real time if you catch it right. Also, she could use Voxer for free, unlike text messages or email, for some reason. Now we all Voxer. I like it best for sending photos, since the ones that go via texting take forever, and tons of data, whereas Voxer sends them instantly and with no hassle.

    My husband still has a flip phone, but since three of his younger photographer friends text him all the time he's considering getting a smartphone. The world will change drastically then!

  15. Yes, Susan, the really great thing about texting is that it enables you to carry on a conversation - or a brief communication - anywhere. Downtown Manhattan, where it's too noisy to hear, or in the Amtrak Quiet Car, where hush is sacrosanct: text is the answer. And in places like the airport, you're not laying out your business for the whole world to hear!

    Which makes me think of something I witnessed back in the early 00s, when cell phones were still a novelty and you would hear people saying, "Yeah, it's me! Guess where I'm calling you from! The plane!" I was on a crowded train from NYC to Washington, in a regular car because my beloved quiet car was completely full. A young woman in the middle of the car whipped out her cell phone and began a loud, one-sided conversation with one of her girlfriends. As she continued, the car grew quieter...and quieter... She was describing in GREAT detail her latest overnight date's assets and abilities. Utterly oblivious to the fact she was broadcasting to several dozen strangers.

    If there had been texting back then, I might have been spared that ordeal. On the other hand, I would have missed a great story...

  16. I use text a lot. Back when it was new, and cell plans didn't automatically come with unlimited text, I had to add texting to my plan because my already-middle-aged husband and his brothers were early adopters. So perhaps I've had longer than most to adapt.

    I don't treat it as an urgency, I treat it as a short message. I prefer it over most other modes of communication for simple communication, like "Made it here safely" or "Are you home for dinner tonight?" My sister doesn't text at all, and sometimes I would LOVE to be able to send her a quick, simple inquiry without getting embroiled in a full conversation.

    One feature my newest phone has that I LOVE is that when my phone is connected to the Bluetooth in my car, it automatically replies to incoming texts with a message that I'm driving and will respond when it is safe to do so.

  17. Susan, my car, if I have Bluetooth activated, will actually read me a message. And allow me to respond with "I'm driving", or "Be there soon", or "On my way".

    To be honest, I've had the car for a year and just figured this out recently.

  18. I like texting, but I get where you are coming from, Hank. I feel the same way about phone calls at times. People expect you to always answer if they call your cell phone. Never mind if you are in the shower or the other room or.... It used to be, if you weren't home, they couldn't reach you when they called and had to be patient. But now we've lost all ability to be patient because people are glued to their phones and we expect them to always be there when we feel like talking to them.

    Wow, I'm sounding like an old curmudgeon, aren't I?

  19. I Love that bluetooth thing, Susan. It;s weird though, right?

    Just off the plane myself--texted Jonathan, and thought of you all..xoox

    HOw do you all feel about emoticons? :-) Do you use them?

  20. Yes, but usually only the smiley/frownie ones.

  21. Texting is great when I am picking up my granddaughter at the airport and she isn't where she is supposed to be. I love getting Where R U? Cracks me up. The only person I regularly text with is my sister. We like to text snarky comments and the like when we are watching the same show at the same time. Or I'll text her to remind her a show is coming up. Crane! (We're Sleepy Hollow fans). Thank god few people call me on my cell phone. I do not encourage it. That is what the landline is for with the answering machine. Although I am ready to get rid of it as we get so many junk calls. Emoticons? I forget I have them until my sister sends me one with a text.

  22. I realize I text a lot. It started out as a way to keep track of the kid, and now we use it to connect when she's working a shift and I don't see her. My sister and I decided we needed to communicate in some way each and every Friday, and if we can't manage a call then text is great. Lots of other useful ways, but I feel like many of the rest of you. Since when did it become mandatory that I instantly reply to each and every text and have to explain myself if I don't? I can be a bit cranky when pressed about that.

  23. Here's my main problem with texting. I'm so slow at it. Put me on a regular keyboard at the computer, and I can fly along due to taking typing in high school and college (thank you, mom). But, until I learn to use my thumbs like the youngsters, I will be a texting plodder. My fourteen-year-old granddaughter does the two thumb speed texting, and I'm in awe. Rhys, this granddaughter just got a phone when she turned 14, and it's a very basic one, and she's not allowed to have it all the time. She was complaining to me that all of her friends had iPhones, thinking that generous Grammy might sympathize. Hahaha! She got surprised. I thought of her that was just crazy that their parents would buy them an iPhone at that young age.

    I'm with those who think of texts more like messages, and I don't usually feel compelled to check or answer immediately. That changes when I'm on a trip and communicating about plans. Well, I try to be good about it. I slipped up at Bouchercon a few times. Right, Kristopher? Lunch today or tomorrow from Kristopher turned into lunch tomorrow by the time I checked my texts. Sorry, Kristopher. Oh, and if my family is traveling or out of town overnight, I check more frequently.

    I do not text and drive, and I don't believe anyone can be careful enough to make it acceptable. Susan, I will be checking into the Bluetooth in the car.

  24. Am I an idiot? I thought the point of texts was that they are asynchronous--you don't have to answer them right away. At least, I don't.

    My pet peeve has become the members of my kids generation who no longer read e-mails. I have to send them a text that says, "Read your e-mail. Important information about Christmas party." Sheesh.

  25. I don't text . . . such a Luddite! I had it taken off my phone when I suddenly started getting texts, "Where R U, grl." (Consumer Cellular had just added it to every account). I do sometimes turn on my cell phone for a call, but not often, and recommend messages be left on my home phone (yes, a land line). My new cordless has speaker, so I can free up my hands. I had been missing the shoulder-cradle phones also. I do Email and FB on laptop, better screen and real keyboard, though I'll sometimes do internet search on iPad, especially if info is needed at book club. I don't understand the tyranny of electronics. I've stopped making lunch plans with those who can't put their phones away for the length of a meal, and I'll never understand those who drive and call or text. Life is too precious to risk that way.
    When we got school email, the secretaries complained that we didn't answer emails quickly . . . because we were busy teaching. I think they finally got the message, not sure what they thought we were doing all day. Of course, the day may come when we'll put the lessons on-line, but I think the human element might be missed. Just remembered a story with which I began the school year

  26. Enjoyed the story, Storytellermary! Thanks for the link.

  27. Texts are very useful.

    "Did you say Idaho potatoes?"

    Phone rings.


  28. My husband is the master texter in our family. I can't imagine what he has to say to all these people. He rarely texts me, and when he does, it's usually of the where are you variety. I keep telling myself I'm missing out on an entire world out there, and I better get in gear!

  29. I did think of one kind of text I especially hate: the group text. In particular, the one where two people won't stop talking to each other, but they are texting everybody so my phone is going crazy and I can't figure out how to leave the conversation. Usually in that case I simple turn off the notifications.