Thoughts For The Day: Texting Time Out

Breaking up is never easy, unless you do it by text. From "in a relationship" to "single" in the space of 160 characters, life couldn't be more simple.
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I once dumped a long-term girlfriend via text. Given that this happened during the mid-nineties when the technology was still new, that might just make me the first ever person to commit such a cowardly act.

The sms break up has all the acrimony a break up should have, except it's all contained in a 12p text, 4p back then, and in just 160 characters - in my case 175 if you take into account my follow up text requesting confirmation that my original message had been received – you can wreck someone’s life.

For a couple of years, I did wonder whether I would be obliged to attend my ex's funeral if anything happened to her.

At the time experts had been warning that break-ups had gotten so predictable, couples were staying together just to avoid the cliché of parting. Break-ups, they said, would be virtually extinct by 2010. Until that is, my text dump shook things up. No more of that, "it's not you, it's me" schtick where you can’t even look her in the eye. The novelty of the text dump was that it didn’t require you to do it in person or over the phone. You didn’t have to write them a letter and then walk to the post box and spend the next few days worrying about a reply. It was instant and shocking in its coldness. Like modern warfare, all you had to do was push a button and it was done. A Godsend for a coward such as myself.

There was though a price to be paid. A face-to-face break-up would have enabled me to hang onto my Remington MB40 Beard and Moustache Trimmer I'd left at my newly erstwhile partner's place. With its integrated pop-up trimmer for moustache and sideburns, and 9 different trimming lengths, the MB40 was ahead of its time, and it wasn't easy walking away from that.

For a couple of years, I did wonder whether I would be obliged to attend my ex's funeral if anything happened to her. Given that her father was a big guy whose knuckles alone were equal to the size of my hands, this was a rather unnerving thought. I could visualise him slapping me around like a rag doll at the service and forcing me to look at the open topped coffin.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages sections of local newspapers were pored over on a weekly basis for any news, and I'd barge my way through the crowds at any road accident to make sure the stricken pedestrian wasn't her.

Relationship experts say that last year alone saw the highest number of break-ups in 12 years, and a staggering 27% of those came via,yeah, you guessed it, text. This shocking trend was, we were told, pioneered by a 34-year-old man from the County Durham area, who dumped his girlfriend via text in March 1998, some eighteen months after my seminal sms.

John Tyndall in 1875, and D.A. Gratia 50 years later were the first to happen upon the antibacterial properties of penicillin, but their role in its discovery was largely overlooked and attributed to Alexander Fleming in 1928. It seems now that my groundbreaking work in the field of text dumping has too been overlooked. Pioneers, it seems, are rarely accorded their dues in their own lifetime.

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