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What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.
–Captain, Road Prison 36, “Cool Hand Luke”

#35.) Twitter and Jaiku–Maybe I’m revealing my age, but I just don’t get the point of text messaging. I’ve checked out the websites, taken a look at the sample feeds, even read Jaiku founder Jyri Engstrom’s talk on cell phones and social peripheral vision and I still can’t figure out why anyone would text message or mini-blog when they could simply send an e-mail or make an actual phone call from an actual phone.

Both cellphones and text messaging are predicated on the same assumption: that people not only can, but SHOULD be in contact all the time which is a bafflement to me. Back in the Really Olde Days, what you wanted to be more than anything else is out of touch, especially from annoying people like bosses and parents who would make you work and curb your fun. And back then, when you were ditching your responsibilities, you had a legitimate excuse: you had no way to communicate with them.

Phones of yore were boxes that were attached to walls and booths. You had to pay to play and phones, while located in a lot of public places, weren’t everywhere. You did not pack them with you and they did not do things like remember the last phone number you called. You had to do that yourself, by writing down phone numbers on your hand or on small slips of paper. Not only could you get better reception on a land-line phone, but if you chose not to call, you could always claim that you had lost the number.

What about e-mail, the Internet, the web, computer cafes? Not even a remote possibility. Anyone who had a home computer back then was using it to whack a virtual Ping-Pong ball back and forth.

I love to blog and I go into severe withdrawal if deprived of my e-mail, but I don’t have a compulsion to send messages every second, especially about the sort of trivial things that people usually text to each other e.g. “I’m stuck in traffic”, “I’m in the ketchup aisle at the grocery store”, etc. In the old days, you went to the store, forgot your shopping list, couldn’t contact homebase for instructions, brought back the wrong kind of tuna, and, as a result, weren’t asked to do the shopping again, thus allowing you to legitimately avoid another dreary chore.

Do a little experiment and put aside your cell and your Blackberry for a day. Yes, deliberately put yourself out of communication range for a single day. Know what that strange yet exhilarating sensation is that you’re now experiencing? It’s called freedom, my friends, freedom. And it’s very sweet.

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