Wrong number on Google Voice leads to, well, cursing

When Zoe from New York and a nameless man from Kentucky get their Google wires tangled, what transpires is a painfully troubling tale of humans' ability to misunderstand and their refusal to let go of that misunderstanding.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I have tended to avoid Google Voice. In part, of course, because it has the word "Google" in its name, but also because it's one more thing to think about. And I have at least 12 more than enough.

However, I had my eyes momentarily diverted by Mashable to an exchange between two people who were connected via Google Voice, but perhaps should not have been.

Mashable says the exchange was saved by Gmail's archive. It truly is remarkable how Google manages to save so much in the world -- and yet has not managed to do anything about the whales.

So Zoe from New York is speaking with a man from Kentucky, who name is currently unknown.

It seems that Johnny Bourbon (yes, I have gave him a random name) believes that Zoe texted one of his friends.

She tries to explain that, no, this could not be the case: "It'd be weird if I texted one of your friends, since this is my Google Voice number (not connected to a phone). What did I say?"

After it seems clear that these two don't know each other and have no friends, relatives or Facebook hangers-on who do either, Zoe politely explains she will end this exchange.

To which Johnny Bourbon replies: "Yeah okay b****."

I haven't been to Kentucky lately -- or, indeed, at all. But this doesn't seem quite like the vernacular that the state's tourism office would condone.

Who could be surprised that Zoe, being from New York, offered a homely local response: "You're welcome, dickbag!"?

There then transpired an exchange notable for a certain degeneration in tone and a significant difference in punctuation habits between New York and Kentucky. Note the comma between "You're welcome" and "dickbag!"

"Lol you sure are just a friendly lil f***," was Johnny's offering.

Johnny then goes on to insist that Zoe should leave his sister alone, for it is clear to him that Zoe had been trying to cause problems between her and her boyfriend.

Sadly, the conversation continues for some time. Words such as retard, b****, crazy, whore, f***, and motherf***** garland the proceedings.

I don't wish to trouble you with every nuance of this dive into sadness, but I wonder whether it might be worth considering one small thing. If this exchange had been a phone conversation, it would likely have lasted less than 10 seconds. It would have been obvious that these were crossed wires and Zoe would surely have simply put the phone down.

However, as technology has proliferated the ease of writing -- and even reading -- we seem less able to resist interacting with things that are real words placed before our eyes.

Which tends, perhaps, to bring out greater truths from within us. The only question is whether this is actually a good thing.

 

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