Friday, April 24, 2009

Breaker, Breaker

A long, long time ago my sister and I were given a set of walkie talkies. They were blue and had a distinct plastic electronic smell. We used to use them when we were “out in the field”, either attempting to solve neighborhood mysteries Nancy Drew style for our make believe police department or seeking information to write up in our self-published newspaper, The Eyeball Gazette. Based on that title, you can tell we had the imagination and the determination thing down, but the creativity skills were admittedly a little lacking.

One day, my sister and I were talking and somehow we crossed signals with another kid who probably had the same set of walkie-talkies. He couldn’t have been far, but for some reason I was thrilled with the thought of picking up some sort of device and being able to talk to someone like that. Yes, the telephone had been invented at that time! It just didn’t have the same appeal. You knew who you were talking to on the telephone. It took the mystery right out of it.

I soon learned of CB radios. I remember playing with one with my dad once. We had made a list of all of the cool CB talk we had heard on TV shows so we didn’t sound like dorks, although, using a CB in your basement was probably dorky. I was like 10. What did I know? It should come as no surprise that once the internet made it’s appearance, I was hooked. I loved chat rooms, particularly one called Moms Online on AOL. I chatted for hours with other moms from all over the US, Canada and England. Not only did I meet new people, it was so much easier to stay in touch with old friends via email. I still enjoy e-mail. I like that you never catch anyone at a bad time and even though few share my appreciation of forwarded jokes, I like them because it means someone thought of me. I’m sappy that way.

When I got my first pager, I was thrilled. Now anyone could get me anywhere at anytime, no matter where I was or what I was doing. My husband used to send me cute little notes via the pager sometimes. I adored it. All of this led, of course, to the modern day cell phone, my iPhone, complete with apps that let me access all my favorite social networking things like blogs, Facebook and Twitter. I love that I can snap a picture and send it to anyone in an instant. Text messaging? LOVE IT!!!

To me, these are all wonderful things and used with good intentions, like I use them, they are. Lately, though, I’ve been witnessing a lot of just plain bad and unacceptable behavior happening with these things and I find that terribly sad.

One of my daughters got into a little spat with a friend and the next thing she knew, there were a barrage of text messages from this friend saying a lot of terrible things and calling her names. It then spread to Facebook. My daughter responded probably much more brazenly than she would have, as well, had this conversation taken place face to face or even over the telephone. It’s hard to undo those fighting words, especially when they’re in print and like a thousand friends have read them, as well.

I remember the shock of a “Sex And The City” episode where Carrie’s boyfriend, Berger, broke up with her via Post-It-Note, the non-technical equivalent of today’s mainstream “breakup via text message” phenomenon. Of course, Dear John/Jane letters have been in existence forever, but at least they provided a lengthy explanation of the heartbreaker’s reasoning. But to end a relationship in 160 characters or less? Disheartening, disgusting and despicable and rather cruel.

It seems as though it’s more commonplace that I had thought. Researching this topic a bit, I learned that a lot of people think this is an “ok method” to ending relationships and that Britney and Kevin Federline broke up via text message, along with Carrie Underwood and Chase Crawford. Even Jessica Simpson has been dump via text. A Saudi Arabian man was granted a divorce after notifying his wife through a text message that he no longer wished to be married to her. All he had to do was text this desire to two other people and was over.

No one seems immune to this. The Real Housewives of NYC’s Countess LuAnn de Lesseps recently authored a book about Good Manners and Etiquette. It seems her husband, The Count, must not have read it because he told her about his affair and ended their 16 year marriage via e-mail.

I'm curious. Have any of you ever broken up or even ended a friendship with someone via email or text messaging or know anyone who has? Have you ever said something to someone in a text or an email that you would not have said having a face-to-face conversation? Have you ever written something on a social networking site, like Facebook or Twitter, that you now wish you could take back?

I think if I ever did, I would stop using these things. I think they are wonderful if used positively, but if I personally experience the negative side, I’d be shattered and probably want to stop using them. It would be a deal breaker, for sure.

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