Though texting is only now gaining signal popularity in America, for years it’s been the norm in Europe, where talking on the phone, especially during the day, is a financial luxury. It’s much easier, and less expensive, to arrange a meeting via text message than to call and pay something like 75 cents a minute to chit chat about where to meet for a pint. You don’t even need to be versed in text shortcuts if your message isn’t lengthy, meaning even a thirty-year-old can do it. For example: “now@british library. Meet quo vadis@9” tells my friend all he needs to know for just 10 cents.
But now Yahoo reports there’s a novel published entirely in text, or SMS, language. Finnish author Hannu Lintiala has devised a book comprised solely of 1000 text messages and replies, set forth in chronological order, which aim to reveal an info-tech worker’s life upon quitting his job and heading out to traverse Europe and India.
Do text messages, as Lintiala asserts, reveal more about us than we initially take them to? Or are they grammatically subversive cryptograms with only fleeting, superficial meaning? Ask the teenager, the fan at a U2 concert, or a jilted lover like Kevin Federline who learn of the demise of a relationship via text.