August 06, 2003
Just Find My Fucking Phone

In an unspecified European city, an unspecified friend of mine was courting a young lady. Among the obstacles in the courtship: this young lady lived with her young boyfriend, who knew nothing of the external-mount xo.

Although we were all in the same city, much of the courtship was done through SMS. You only get 150 characters but more has, in love, been said with less. Sometimes. They probably exchanged about 10 messages a day, and the last one he sent went something like "i can't stop thinking about u when do i see u again?"

He didn't hear back for hours, and then she called him, furious, demanding to know what, exactly, he was trying to do. Whether he had no feelings or what. Whether he was such an arrogant motherfucker.

Because he didn't send the SMS to her mobile phone, where it would appear as ASCII text. Instead, he accidentally sent the SMS to her home phone, the phone she shares with her boyfriend. The phone she shares with her boyfriend, the boyfriend who picked it up when it indicated there was an SMS message waiting for him.

But when SMS messages go to non-mobile phones, they can't display, so they speak. He pressed "1" to hear the message. And there, modulated and synthesized, out came my friend's sweet and caring words, like the musings of a lovelorn HAL, like a speech from a tracheotomy patient, like a monologue by Steven Short History of Motherfucking Hawking. His words, direct from his phone's keypad to the boyfriend's ear. There's a sweetness. And there's a kind of magic there, but then I'm not sure what kind.

All of which is to say that the bridge between SMS and human interaction and emotion is getting shorter, wider, and possibly more dangerous. Because now, "actual emotions," says BT Exact, "can be conveyed between family and friends in a physical and tactile way... interactive toys [will] be linked to mobile phones so that SMS communication can be displayed through the toys' actions." To be clear, I'd be happier if I had an interactive toy that could just find my fucking phone. But one step at a time.

Posted by kevin slavin at August 06, 2003 01:55 AM

I like friends who have same taste.

Posted by: umesh on January 9, 2006 12:36 PM
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