We know at some point your parents have gotten a Christmas card from a far- off acquaintance who misspelled their names on the envelope. Or maybe a letter, clearly written while intoxicated, from your step-uncle who ended up going to jail for that weird parrot-slavery auction he operated out of your neighbor’s tree house.
Similarly, both of this week’s Things – the mass-text and the drunk-text – are deeply rooted in the history of American stupidity. The rise of our cell phone overlords has given us a much more convenient way to display all forms of obnoxiousness. But not until recently were the two phenomena so abundant, and not until today have they fought.
The mass-text is today’s most prominent medium for lame jokes, party invites, and holiday greetings for any day worthy of a special Google logo. The mass-text rarely presents the opportunity for a full conversation: if you dare to thank someone for their ‘Happy 143rd anniversary of Warren G. Harding’s birthday! <3' text, be prepared for the inevitable 'OMG, I didn't ask for your life story, I just had a few texts to burn. Not all of us have rollover, yuppie scum. LOL.' Ultimately, the role of the mass-text is that of a friendship-o-meter: recipients can be assured they are more than just fleeting acquaintances, but not yet at the stage known as 'actual friendship.' Rather, they are in the transitional 'Do I say hi when I pass them on the street or not?' phase. In the other corner of this week’s Thingfight, we have the infamous drunk-text. Personal, heartwarming and meaningful – the drunk-text could be all of these things if it were legible. You see, the central flaw in the design of the drunk-text stems from T9, (or, in snooty phones, Predictive Text) a system which more or less ‘guesses’ what one means to type, designed for the lazy and elderly. Meaning may be lost when ‘rejected’ types out as ‘selected,’ or when referring to a great friend named Steph as ‘Queri.’ A few drinks only complicates the scenario: ‘This is the best party ever! I love you man!’ becomes ‘This in tie bert pastry dump! I LOUD MYT NAN!’ And, in the most serious instance, when being asked one’s preference to party music, one might mean to say, ‘I hate CHER’ and instead textually announce, ‘I have AIDS.’ Coincidence? You’d have to ask Thomas Travis Teetotaller the Ninth, developer of the T9 system. Regardless, rarely does pure honesty pour as openly as it does in the medium of drunk-text. Whether it’s your ex-boyfriend luring you with an elegant, ‘Come us ot my arpramtment we hot ninentdos’ or your mom typing out, ‘We rae gald oyu ewnt to collllege foot ever come bakc!’ you always know what they’re trying to say. And in our fast-paced, stop-and-go, digital-surfing, media-saturated, hot pocket-eating society, that’s more than a little reassuring. Our faithful and attractive readers may be asking, why not another Thing-tie like last week? How easy and convenient would it be to send and/or receive a mass-drunk-text? Here at Thingfight, it can be said that we are many horrible things, but we could never be called quixotic. Partially, because we don’t know what that means, but also because, realistically, there is no physical way a drunk person would have the timing or coordination to send out a drunk-mass-text. For all we know, studies could show that of all mass-texts sent, 15 percent are sent to the wrong person. In the haste of getting the word out, there is a frighteningly easy chance that one will accidentally send the text message to a contact-list doppelg’auml;nger. The risk is heightened to 85 percent when the sender has more than two Appletinis, a White Russian and five-thirds of a Long Island Iced Tea, as a certain Thingfight columnist did last Thursday (thanks for the ‘f harg gheigl,’ you know who you are.) Even if that text were to follow through to its deserved recipients, it risks combining the worst aspects of the two Things. The last message anyone wants is an impersonal and grammatically incorrect invitation to Sunday brunch. The victor: the drunk-text, out of pure hilarity. In some ways, a drunk-text is farther reaching than a mass-text, for a truly epic drunk-text can be passed on from person to person, generation to generation, ensuring the sender can never forget about it. Ever. And to think, all of this greatness can be achieved with a simple click of an inebriated thumb. In the words of Walt Whitman, ‘teh apt of art, th glosy me exqdrp pinn cod tie sunshine of tie jight ndletturs, iq simplicity. I LOUD OYU MAN.’