SOMETIMES a new development occurs that seems so outrageously overdue, you wonder why God himself didn’t come up with it.
Drunken texting is not one of those developments.
What’s overdue is a way to counteract its ill effects.
Inebriants prone to spilling their guts in person tend to find themselves in the physical company of the equally sloshed. Whatever inappropriate remarks they have made to each other at 3 a.m. outside the pub are often conveniently dismissed by both parties the next day as the distracting storm-clouds of headaches and nausea converge.
Irate telephone messages caused by the time-honoured tradition of “drinkin’ and dialin’” are more lasting, since they can be saved, replayed and forwarded to others. Perhaps worst of all are bitter text messages, because they’re short, pithy, easily shared with everyone on the recipient’s contact list, and -- worst of all, from my perspective -- indiscriminately spelled. They are basically scream-of-consciousness. And they’re ubiquitous. My 19-year-old daughter Petunia once confessed that she had tossed and turned one night before finally getting up to “send out some angry texts.”
Apparently some 40 percent of texters have mis-directed one of these instant notes, as well – a gaffe that even we lowly, mouth-breathing e-mailers know is dire.
As a result of this widespread problem, there’s actually at least one entertaining website devoted to drunken texts: www.mydrunktexts.com. Picture yourself realizing, the morning after, that you’ve accidentally sent your boss one of the following msgs (all misspellings and punctuation errors original to the site):
“If I don’t wake up hungover in a ditch Monday morning I will consider my halloween a failure.”
“So we are lighting beer bottles on fire and breaking them in half to make glasses … Don’t worry … were wearing oven mits.”
“keep an eye on me. I’m afraid that after a few more drinks I’ll ask to borrow his wheelchair.”
To me, these actually seem a bit tame compared to “I was quietly enjoying my waffles when he came downstairs naked, kissed me on the forehead, and thanked me for the night before, I didn’t even know anyone stayed over.”
And “I just asked the contractor building my house what it would cost to put a garbage disposal in all the shower drains… there was a lot of judging going on.”
The list of inappropriate messages sent out willy-nilly goes on for pages on the website, and obviously there are millions bouncing around the text-o-sphere even as I write. But now, praise the nerds, they’ve invented applications and software that can turn back the clock. Apple recently won a U.S. patent on technology that is purely intended to save indiscreet babblers from themselves.
According to a recent article by the Globe and Mail’s Zosia Bielski, entitled “One tequila shot too many? Technology will save you from mistext regrets,” the likely buyers of this item are the parents of “sexting” young people, because the technology means “offensive messages could be returned to sender or deleted outright.”
One existing hi-tech solution, the Globe advises, can be found at a G-Mail add-on called Mail Goggles. This program asks you to solve a math question before you fire off impromptu remarks at certain times of the day, which you have previously determined and set manually. If you can’t answer the question properly, having decided the level of difficulty yourself, Mail Goggles will say “Water and bed for you. Or try again.” G-Mail cannot be held responsible if you then kick the computer down the stairs.
Meanwhile, the LP4100 mobile phone with built-in breathalyzer allows you to program your cell so certain phone numbers are blocked when the breathalyzer says you’re intoxicated – good news for folks on probation and the recently separated.
It’s hard to imagine how these wouldn’t help the chronically inflamed. If only some of history’s most evil villains had been technologically prevented from giving the order for heinous acts they devised while under the influence, whether of alcohol or just a fit of pique. An enraged quill forcibly set down might never have been raised again in anger – and Henry VIII might have been Husband of the Year.
In other butt-saving news, an iPhone app called TigerText automatically deletes texts after you’ve read them, a boon for international persons of mystery and for cheaters who’d rather the missus got no wind of the mistress. If only there were an app that could retrieve all those winks I lavish on comely drive-through servers and supermarket produce boys, all would be right with my world.
The ability to erase your errors seems ideal, but some take the notion a little far. Another trend sees young people attempting to disappear by means of zentai suits – head-to-toe black spandex bodysuits with no facial or other features. The Globe reports that, in Toronto, groups of these shadowy figures gather on buses and in bars and other public spots.
One 16-year-old said he had spent an evening at an arts festival with friends in black zentai, and they were treated like celebrities. “It’s something that you can still sort of go out and not be famous, but have people pay attention to you with no strings attached,” he told reporter Dakshana Bascaramurty.
Ah, youth -- it remains a festival of foolishness. Fortunately, some day there will be an application to whisk away all the idiotic decisions that most of us made in our teens. In the meantime, at the very least, the four-eyed elves are hard at work in Silicon Valley, figuring out how to ensure we all still have friends and jobs at the end of a well-lubricated night.