You know that a technology has gone mainstream when people start using it to break up with their partners -- especially if those people are famous. Recently, it has been suggested that Britney Spears dumped her hubby Kevin Federline via a text message. A clip of a short documentary filmed by Canadian TV show MuchOnDemand is currently available on YouTube showing 'Fed-Ex' looking visibly disturbed after receiving a text around the time when people suspect Britney was filing for divorce.
This isn't the first time this has happened, however, or even the worst case of text-message dumping. Indeed, in the UK it's a common occurrence. Last year, for example, Kate Moss is alleged to have dumped rocker boyfriend Pete Doherty via text. Worst still, there have been several cases of people being fired in the UK via a short SMS message, a practice that has landed those responsible with a lawsuit from their former employees.
So what is it about the UK that makes us so prone to dumping partners or employees using our phones? The first part of the answer is that text messaging has become such an intrinsic part of our daily lives that we no longer see it as a digital replacement to honest communication. It's not necessary anymore to tell somebody you love them: now you can merely tap a keypad and click a button and, hey presto, your love has been expressed. (Some phones even have a pre-written 'I love you xxx' message for maximum emotional efficiency.)
In Spain, they have taken it one step further and don't even text their boyfriends or girlfriends, so as to not incur any network charges. Instead, they use a system called 'toque', which literally translates to 'touch' and involves one person ringing the other person just once to express a pre-decided message -- one ring I love you, two rings I hate you. By only ringing and not answering, neither person is billed for any call or text charges. It's a modern morse code.
Back to the UK, and further to our point about it becoming intrinsic to our lives is the fact that it fits perfectly with British culture. Why go through the aggro of standing in front of someone and telling them your feelings, when you can save all the embarrassment and pain of true emotional contact and simply text a brutal message from miles away? The truth is that text messaging is a very lazy way of communicating things that otherwise would be difficult to say.
There is another element to the rise of text-message dumping, which is that for the first time in history, we can contact people wherever they are. This means that unlike Juliet, who couldn't text Romeo 'Dn't wrry I'm not dead jst aslp', we can text people at all hours, with any message -- as Britney apparently did to Kevin, while he was filming. That instant gratification means that we can enjoy a much faster sense of closure and if there's one thing us Brits like, it's a quick solution to an emotional situation. If you have been dumped or fired by text please tell us your story by posting it below. Cue the violin ringtone... -AL