About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Curse of The Text Message By Holly Searle




It's funny isn't it, the more technically savvy we are all becoming, the less actual interaction we appear to be having with one another.

The routes of communication are so varied these days, that it is hard to imagine that a man once jumped on a horse and rode for days in order to deliver a single message.

I bet our historical relatives would shake their heads and laugh out loud at how easy we now have it and how much time it could have saved them.

That my dear friends is just one of the benefits of technology. As swift as an arrow, it passes us all in the blink of an eye, leaving us all wondering to ourselves "What the hell was that?"

I can recall thinking my family very modern when we had a telephone installed in our house. It had a certain social status attached to it and we were able to lift the handset and dial a number and speak to another human being. It was quite remarkable.

Of course that was a simple pleasure, that was part of a bygone age, and one that I often yearn for.

Telephone boxes were our mobiles phones way back then. We couldn't slip them into our pockets, but we could locate one with great ease on most streets if we were out and needed to make a quick call.

After making sure that we had the right amount of change needed for the call and summoning the strength to pull open the red cast iron door. We would be met with that familiar dank smell that combined urine, fags and the musty old paper of those encyclopaedic telephone directories (that contained all the names and addresses of everyone).

And then, after you had dialled the number, you waited as the call was connected, and subsequently answered, before depositing some of that change into the slot. There were no free minutes in those days as we were reminded when the pips sounded out on the line. Those steady beeps informed us that our time was nearly up, and gave us the option to either deposit more money or simply let the person we had called know that it was time to say goodbye.

And what did we say during the course of those quick calls. Well, mostly we made simple arrangements to meet our mates at a designated time and place and stuck to them. There was no endless stream of mindless chit chat to use up those minutes. We were simply in like flint and out again and saved the chit chat for later.

And then it all got out of hand.

Life got far too technical (and unnecessary for some of us) as new forms of communicative mutations started to evolve. And just like a cult, some of these alternatives soon attracted devotees who misused them and in the process revealed the San Andreas faults in their personalities.

I must admit to owning a mobile phone, but I held off for quite a while before I actually did.

And when I did, being a child of the Star Trek generation, I was amazed that this little device was able to perform such wonders.

I was a little intimidated by it at first (as I always am with subsequent upgrades) but I soon got used to it and its lexicons of functionalities.

And now I have a handset that offers me an array of options that I would never have imagined possible whilst eating my tea and watching star Trek all of those years ago, when we just had a buck standard telephone that just rang off its cradled if someone called.

I must admit that I do not make use of a majority of my mobile phone's applications. They all just end up in that space that we all collectively refer to as over my head.

Some of them are pretty amazing though. And I feel as though I am quite savvy when I master the art of using one of them or accidentally stumble across something that I never knew existed.

But, there is one functionality that I have grown to detest as I find it says more about those that misuse it, and which has at times made me want to throw mine out of the window.

And that my friends is the cult of the text message and its devotees.

First and foremost, I will agree with you, that in some situations sending a text is acceptable.

A quick message to say that you are late, or on your way. You know that sort of thing. Not unlike those quick calls we all used to make form a telephone box.

But, and here's the thing. I cannot abide those whom use this method to send a continual stream of messages that could be mistaken for an attempted autobiography of their lives. Or those that use this method of communication to hide behind instead of just ringing you up.

And I am happy to share with you the fact that both of these cited social bĂȘte noires will be met with an unprintable set of reactions from me.

Yes, by all means get in touch and let me know your whereabouts. But if you wish to discuss anything more substantial with me, for goodness sake (and for the sake of my sanity), just call.

I have an ex whom I refer to as my stalker. Many years ago, he and I had a clandestine affair. He, I know, enjoyed this as it enabled him to satisfy his sense of one-upmanship over his wife, as she continued her thought to be secret affair with the village butcher.

He would send me an unlimited amount of text messages on a daily basis about it all, and about us. Initially I found it all quite exciting. But then it grew tiresome as did I as the flame of passion started to diminish, but not for him and his mobile.

Eventually his wife owned up and moved in with the butcher and divorced the stalker.

But even though she was gone, he still carried on sending me text messages when in reality, he was free to call me whenever he wished to do so.

Safe to say it was a hurdle that he couldn't quite get over in his mind. And to this very day, several years later, when my mobile alerts me to the fact that I have a text message late in the evening, I know it is him.

He is harmless enough. But the messages are incoherent and make no sense. If I respond to them, he pays no attention to my reply, and will continues to send through further meaningless grammatically incorrect texts.

I do not respond. And eventually they stop.

I draw two conclusions from this; one is that he may as well be texting anyone and two, that he has stopped because he has fallen asleep with his mobile, no doubt resting on his pillow.

Once I sent him a rhetorical text saying "Why don't you just ring me up?"

When he did, he didn't know what to say.

Still, it's nice to know that someone is thinking about you, I suppose.

Then there are the manic insistent textees whom paradoxically will use this form of communication as their means of contacting you because they don't actually want to speak to you.

Usually, they adopt this method because they are really trying to avoid you. I know. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, especially as they have contacted you first.

When you do not respond to them, they will become quite affronted with you because they know, that you know, exactly what they are up to. And because you have watched far too many episodes of The Killing not be able to recognise their modus operandi.

The more you ignore them, they more inventive, dramatic and draining they will became.

Again, I just think to myself whilst reading these messages, if you had only called, we could have spoken.

Ahhhh, well, there you go.

In the end, I have to conclude that it isn't really the fault of technology, but rather those whom misappropriate its wonders. After all, if the people you know, know you well enough, they will just call.

And strangely enough, those are the very same people that you would have once found on a horse delivering a message or in a small red cast iron box with a pocket full of loose change.

And those my friends, are my kind of people.



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