Can we talk about texting



I’m as addicted to my iPhone as the next gal, but when history is happening, I turn off the phone and pay attention.

A group of us gathered at a friend’s store to watch Barack Obama’s Inauguration this week. It was festive, it was fun, it was emotional and it was the experience of a lifetime.

I was proud to be an American-and I was horrified to witness one of the other party guests texting his way through the ceremony. This was an incredible moment in history, something to tell our grandchildren about. He was obviously interested enough in the inauguration to get up early that morning and come to the party to watch it, so what’s it going to take to make him put away the phone for a few minutes?

This guy wasn’t even a teenager, so I can’t attribute his extra long thumbs (otherwise known as texting-itis) to a generational adaptation. My friend Albert is also squarely middle-aged, and yet he texted his way through a concert at the Granada the other night.

What it is up with that anyway?

Are we really so addicted to our gadgets that there has to be a law to stop people from texting while driving? My first reaction when I saw the signs about the new law outlawing texting while driving was a big fat “duh.” But I’m starting to think it might really be needed.

I read in the LA Times recently that Americans now send about 75 billion text messages a month and I’m okay with that.

Really, I am.

Texting is an excellent way to contact a friend late at night without worrying about waking them up. Or it’s a great tool to communicate information without taking time out to have a conversation.

But when real life is going on-especially big, important, historic moments in real life are going on-the cell phones should be turned off. No debate, no discussion, no exceptions, no texting.

Even small, insignificant moments in real life should take priority over texting. I can’t remember the last time I had dinner with my teenage nephews and they weren’t texting under the table.

On occasion, I used to have to say, “Hey my eyes are up here,” to keep leering eyes from staring at my cleavage. Now I have to say, “Hey my eyes are up here,” to stop them from staring at their cell phone screens.

Granted, that may be more of a comment on the current state of my cleavage than anything else, but still, I think we need some simple text-etiquette lessons.

If there’s something significant going on that you’ve gathered together with others to experience, then put away your cell phone. This goes for presidential inaugurations, rock concerts, movies, and dinners with families and friends.

If you’re operating heavy machinery, then focus on the ten tons of steel you’re controlling, not the three ounces of plastic keyboard that can easily wait until break time.

It’s none of my business if you want to spend a significant fraction of your 1,440 minutes a day checking the number of pokes and prods you got on Facebook, but that’s not how I want to spend my time. So, if there’s another person across from you-especially if it’s me-give them your attention, not your cell phone.

And not your land line either, for that matter. It really irks me when I go to the trouble to go to a store, in person, and the person working there stops helping me to answer the phone.

It also really irks me when I go to the trouble to have dinner/lunch/coffee with a friend, and the person stops our conversation to answer the phone or respond to a text.

Yes, I understand that there are emergencies with kids and work, cars that need to be serviced and deals that need to be closed, and if you really need to take the call or respond to the message then I’ll still be your friend, but the proper response to such an interruption is, “excuse me.”

Even “xq me” is better than simply treating the flesh and blood people you’re with as less important than whoever is trying to connect with you on the phone.

So in answer to that text you just sent me, “Y r u mad @ me?” I’d really like to look you in the eye and say, “because you’re being rude,” but hey, my eyes are up here.

When Leslie’s not ranting about cell phones she’s really a very pleasant person who can be reached at For more columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on January 23, 2009.

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