A thought ran through my mind when I saw this suggested Valentine's Day message to a loved one: "If i cud be anything i wud b ur tears! So that i cud b born in ur eyes, live down ur cheeks and die on ur lips!"
What I thought was I was suddenly happy that I'd never figured out how to send a text message, especially in dreaded iambic pellagra verse, from my cell phone.
As a matter of fact, I can do exactly two things with the quasi-ancient hand-me-down cell phone that I inherited from my youngest son, Justin. No. 1, I can answer it. No. 2, I can call out on it.
There was an outside shot at mastering a No. 3 - changing the ring tone - but, truth be known, an unsuccessful stab at call-waiting was what led to my phone playing out an annoying rendition of "Camptown Races," of all things, whenever anyone called. That malady persisted until I tried to program in my home phone number, which didn't work either, except that somehow my regular, nondescript ring tone was restored.
I'd been somewhat embarrassed about my utter failure to grasp this technology until I checked into some examples of the messages that people send with their phones and decided it could quite possibly loosen a person's overall grasp of the English language.
Take "the," possibly the most used word in English and a favorite launching point for countless student essays. When you text somebody, you type "da" instead of the. Except "you" don't type da. "U" type da.
N fac, dats how u spel da 2da.
But there's no denying the growing popularity of texting, if that's a word. I've seen a couple of surveys, mostly by companies with an interest in cell phones, that point out that texting is becoming a favorite way of sending out Valentine's Day greetings. One poll said that 80 percent of texters sent out flirty messages in the past year, and 60 percent of texters will be send flirty Valentine's messages this week to people who aren't their spouses or significant others, an act generally known as "keeping your options open."
And 78 percent of the people surveyed by one mobile phone company said they wouldn't be offended if they got a texted Valentine in lieu of a card or flowers, findings which, I would venture to guess, probably conflict horribly with the results of surveys conducted by most companies that push flowers and cards. The chocolate industry wasn't mentioned, since nobody wants to tackle that V-Day juggernaut.
And, lest someone make light of your heartfelt poetry that can downloaded from various Web sites, you can send Valentine's messages anonymously, which, no doubt, keeps even more options open, specifically the one to run and hide, which u wud text as da 1 2 r&h.
The sad thing is that regardless of its popularity, no technology is foolproof, nor is it forbidden to those who, from time to time, do foolish things. One of the surveys found that up to 25 percent of the texters have sent messages to the wrong people, especially when they've been texting while drinking, another activity that's notorious for inspiring bad rhymes, specifically the ones scribbled on the stalls in men's restroom. That means you run the very real risk of having your boss or clergy look at his or her phone on Valentine's Day and read:
"I love u with my heart, my body•soul, this love 4 u i can not control, da game aint over its just begun, i'll keep on playin coz i no ur da one."
Tell me that won't get you mentioned prominently in the company newsletter or next Sunday's church bulletin.
Besides inspiring you to type poetry that wouldn't even qualify for third stall consideration, I'm convinced that texting is dangerous to the health of the cell phone itself. I say this because I've never texted anybody and my old one's still going strong, like a pink battery-powered rabbit.
My monthly cell phone bill, however, indicates that our son texts with the frequency of a cheap ham radio. He called from college the other day to announce that his phone, which he's had less than two years, is, sadly, on its last legs. May it RIP.
I told him we'd see about it - L8R.
Jim Hendricks is editor of the Albany Herald, sister paper of the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.