|SHALL BE EITHER THE DOWNFALL OF HUMANITY OR ITS SAVIOR, I HAVEN'T DECIDED YET|
So, Hallmark, renowned progenitors of technology that they are,1 recently decided to jump on-board with that whole "texting" fad all the kids are talking about these days. In the process, they managed to invent possibly the most useless consumer product in existence. They are called Text Bands,2 and they are redundant and/or inferior to like 15 types of technology, as well as just basic person-to-person communication. Yayyyyy good job.
1. Remember those cards that played the Friends theme when you opened them? THEY INVENTED THAT SHIT
As far as I can tell, Text Bands can only be used to send the word "SUP"
What are Text Bands? Well, I am going to save you the trouble of reading Hallmark's hip teen lingo ("HOW 2 SEND UR MSG") and just explain how it works in real, actual words:
I mean, what kid wouldn't want all the street cred that
the famous Hallmark crown logo will provide? TEXT.
But, let's consider the, like, 80 problems this presents.
The appeal of texting is that it is a quick, discrete way to exchange thoughts at a distance. Text Bands are basically the exact opposite of this in every single respect. You are confined to 4-letter words (Hey, I can already think of some!) on a huge, garish light-up monstrosity and you must PHYSICALLY TOUCH THE RECIPIENT to pass your message along.
Text Bands would actually be sort of OK if the messages could be a little longer, and you could at least send them across a room or something. I would totally feel like Dick Tracy doing that shit, except kids don't know who Dick Tracy is anymore, I imagine, so they would probably feel like Ben 10 or whoever the fuck.
The magic shit that comes out of our watches may change,
but there will always be magic shit coming out of our watches.
POINT BEING, this is basically the least useful form of communication developed in the past, say, 6,000 years. Am I exaggerating? Probably, but let's just consider the various things that are more useful than Text Bands:
Oh, and remember: Text Bands can only work if other people buy the stupid thing, no matter how much Hallmark weaves a tale of how not-sad life is with just one Text Band:
That is one way. Fuck you. Fuck you ten times.
3. I'll give them this; Hallmark is doing a decent job of marketing these things. They've
activated the weird Disney Channel Cyborg Talent Machine, and now they've got like 20
different endorsements from various attractive multihyphenate Stepford tweens (Example 1,
I am not joining your cult, "Cody Simpson," you weird Australian Adonis.
WHY THE FUCK ELSE WOULD I HAVE THIS THING IF NOT TO TALK SHIT.
And hey, speaking of cusses, guess what I just found out? It turns out Text Bands have a fucking BAD WORD FILTER, so you can't even flash the effer at your friends when the teacher isn't looking.
I'm going to level with you. I bought a set of Text Bands, and this fascist censorship of theirs has finally inspired me to crack them open.
I will find one bad word they did not think of. This I swear.4
All right, prepare yourself, people, for we are entering the belly of the beast.
Aw, but look how cute the beast's belly is!
First things first, though, I had to print out a copy of the Text Bands Oath:
I had to use the back of an old pay stub, because I am a grown-up
adult who somehow manages to never have printer paper.
Comrades! Throw off the chains of human oppression!
The bourgeoisie dies with you, Text Band Oath!
It greeted me:
It appears I got one of the rare Cockney Text Bands.
This was my Friday night. How was yours?
I felt like Alexander Graham Bell making his famous first telephone message:
"Take me off your calling list."
I thought you guys might be getting bored of staring at my forearms, so I put
on this temporary tattoo of ... what I guess is some sort of sexy sports lady?
A surly male in thick glasses doing a single, insincere clap.
Hey, it's just like every indie rock concert that's ever happened!
Perhaps not the most effective gang sign.
My basic exploration of the technology complete (it turns out you can do up to 10-character phrases, by the way -- hurrah forever), I proceeded to stay up until 2am, entering every profanity, insult, and racial slur into the thing I could think of (I also consulted Wikipedia), to see what I could get away with. Every time I entered a no-no word, the Text Band would self-righteously admonish me by saying, "NOT OKAY," followed by repeating the last acceptable phrase I had entered. This led to some pretty fun yo-mama-style exchanges:
I am also pleased to report that the often-conservative Hallmark corporation does not take an abstinence-only view of intercourse:
God, I'm never going to be able to buy a card there again.
I texted. And texted. And texted. Until my fingers were arthritic and my knuckles bloody (the marks of a true Text Bander). But it was worth it.
It turns out there are a ton of workarounds for cusses -- V's that look like U's, 5's that look like S's, etc. It's actually kind of disappointing; I'd sort of been hoping they'd really thought this through and considered every possible dirty trick kids might pull. Maybe they even had a special guy on staff whose whole job was to be a pre-teen profiler and stay ahead of their tricks. And maybe they'd team him up with a reformed punk kid who knew all the ins-and-outs of text swears, and each week they'd have to try and outfox another One Direction fan who had figured out a new way to call her sister a slut.6,7
6. I would totally watch a USA Original Series based around this, by the way.
9 out of 10 of even of the most discerning shithead kids can't tell the difference.
Anyway, if we all managed to get "BOOBS" on our calculators growing up, I have no worries that the today's generation will find their own methods of saying terrible, terrible things to each other with the primitive technology available to them.8 But, just in case, I created a little resource for them below. Feel free to skip it, as I probably didn't say any jokes in it or anything.
8. OK, it turns out the Hallmark people were right: There is something weirdly satisfying
about being able to flash the word "FUCK" (or "FVCK," rather) at people whenever you'd like.
You know how everyone mocks the song "Ironic" because there aren't any actual examples of irony in it? A song about irony that has no examples of irony in it is actually super-ironic. Do you know what that makes Alanis Morissette? The smartest person in the entire world.
I'm starting to think Text Bands may be the same sort of thing. They're so bad at what they do that there's actually a secret genius to them.
The technology we have isolates us as much as it connects us. That's not news to anybody. But I think we're starting to like it. We use it as a dodge, a way to keep us one step removed from the real world.
"Hey, want to have sex after this?" "Sure, lol" "Wait. Fucking autocorrect. I meant no."
See, if I didn't have a phone to pretend to play with at concerts or on the subway, I might accidentally wind up talking to a person. And that's uncomfortable, sometimes downright terrifying. Things could go bad. I could meet someone terrible or crazy, I could wind up in a fight, I could die even (yes, I am that bad at meeting new people). Technology spares me from that risk. It creates a little bubble of distance, of protection. But at what cost? We should be a little uncomfortable, we should be getting in each other's business a little more, engaging strangers and getting into adventures (and misadventures).
Text Bands would do that.
At the same time, technology allows us to share our thoughts too easily, and too often, to the point where none of the thoughts have to matter, because we know they're just going to get washed away with all the rest of them. We don't take the time to consider what we're saying and why we're saying it.
Text Bands would do that.
Here are some of the internet's cool thoughts on bagels. Great job, internet!
Yes, Text Bands are incredibly flawed, but their flaws are kind of perfect and wonderful. They're a regressive technology, which is some sort of crazy oxymoron that I don't think is even a thing, but they have the potential to reestablish real life connections. Each message must be carefully considered, just 'cause it's such a fucking pain in the ass to compose each one. Every communication requires a real connection, closeness, actual physical contact, simply because their dumb message swapping system is so crude. And that's AWESOME! We should be touching each other more, getting closer to each other.
Pwned indeed, Text Bands. Pwned indeed.
So, in the end, despite the gallons of vitriol I spewed above, uh, you should probably go get a Text Band. Everyone should. And we should all be high-fiving and fist-bumping and vagina-handing all the damn time, and making simple, solid declarations to each other. Yeah, it's stupid, but if it's stupid that brings us closer, maybe it isn't.
I just wish the damn thing told time.
Special thanks to my inspiration for this piece, and the true love of my life:
Jello shots. 3-week-old Jello shots that I kept hooning down anyway.