confused robot

I would like to discuss with you a modern problem, one that has the potential to strain relationships, upset family members, destroy old friendships, prevent new friendships, and restrict opportunities of all kinds. All this, you say? Yes, the potential for all this, I say. What is this potentially destructive modern problem? you ask. Let me explain through a story, I explain:

I had gone on a few dates with a sweet, athletic, intelligent, family-oriented, and career-minded man. Wishing to communicate something important to him, I made the regrettable—for more than one reason—decision to do so through text messaging. I am a woman of the modern era; that’s my excuse. Well, and I may also be a rotten and thoughtless person. In any case, he called me the next day.

For twenty excruciating minutes, he beat around the bush. He wanted to talk about anything and everything, except for the content of my text. Meanwhile I, trying to go with the flow, did not intervene, but rather answered his questions briefly and without emotion (see: rotten and thoughtless person, above). Finally, he said, “Well, it doesn’t seem like you’re in the mood to talk tonight.”

“Um,” I blurted out, “don’t you want to talk about my text?!”

(By this point, you’ve probably guessed where this story is going. . . .)

“What text?” he said.

He had not received the text! Caught off guard, I proceeded to completely bungle an oral explanation of what I had written, communicating in the most uncomprehensible English my convoluted point of view; and things ended badly.

In addition to having experienced outbound texting failures, I have also been on the non-receiving end of things. In the past year, I have failed to receive text messages from my mother, my psychotherapist, and my housemate. That last was an especially interesting case, since it was a group text, and the other recipient got it just fine.

Having felt frustrated by this problem for months, I finally found the time to scamper off to the Internet. There, I discovered that many others are having this issue. And then I discovered that my phone service provider offers a text messaging app that can be installed on multiple devices (in my case, phone and laptop) and that, people claimed, solved the problem for them.

The setup of these apps went uncommonly smoothly. And now—whoa!—I can text from my laptop, not just my phone. This is an exciting development, as it means I don’t have to interrupt the flow of my work at the keyboard if I want to shoot off a quick text, or read an incoming text. Moreover, if my phone breaks or goes missing, I can still access my text messages.

Something else interesting occurred when I installed the apps. The missing text from my housemate appeared, in proper sequence, on my laptop’s app! . . . though it is still missing on my phone’s app. Such a mystery!

How many friendships around the world have been damaged, or prevented from flowering, due to missed texts? How many business opportunities have fallen through? How many mothers have sighed, thinking their children were remiss in sending love, when actually they were not? What countless words would Charles Dickens pen about this tragedy, were he alive today?

Have you ever missed an important text? Have you ever sent one that never made it out of the ether and onto the intended recipient’s phone?