Text messages turn into high explosives

Dwight Harriman
Livingstone Enterprise News Editor

Texting is like playing with famously unstable nytroglycerin: Tap something the wrong way, and it can blow you up.
Such was the case with me this week. It was my turn to make dinner at our house, and, trying to go beyond my usual fare, I texted my wife the following:
“What would you think of sausage n pancakes for supper? I’m trying to do something different. Could throw a fried egg in for kicks.”
Only it didn’t go to my wife.
It went to a female news contact in local government. When I discovered my mistake seconds after I sent it, the blood drained from my face. Completely mortified, I called the woman to explain, and lucky for me, as soon as she answered she started laughing and said she loved pancakes.
What had happened, of course, was that just before my failed attempt to text my wife, I had exchanged a work-related text with the news contact — I can see you nodding your heads in understanding — and when I created the message for my wife, I accidentally typed below my last exchange with the woman.
A co-worker tells me a similarly embarrassing story. His wife, son and daughter were exchanging texts about what they should get each other for Christmas. The daughter then sent a text to her brother, saying:
“Don’t worry about Mom. We’ll just get her a crappy old movie and she’ll be happy with it.”
The message, of course, didn’t go to her brother — it went to her mom. 
Never mind that my co-worker’s wife really does like old movies — the indelicate phrasing created no small amount of consternation. 
Everyone has a similar horror story, some much worse than these, where texts with far more damning information get accidentally sent to people like bosses. Those stories usually don’t end well.
Another veritable minefield is the “Recent Calls” page on your smartphone. Rummaging through that is like walking through a World War I minefield in the no-man’s-land between the Allies and the Germans. One false move and it will start calling a recent caller back. In fact, just looking at the list can cause it to start dialing someone.
The digital age has produced wondrous communication devices for us, but also created new headaches like errant texts and the the famous pocket dial that absolutely will not release you from its consequences. How many tiresome calls have you gotten from pocket dial recipients who calls back and say, “Hey, I saw you called — is everything OK?” 
And heaven forbid you should dial a number, then change your mind. If you dialed it, you’re committed, baby. Get ready to endure making awkward explanations when they call back. Today, simply to dial is to leave a message.
Young folks may not remember this, but there was a time when, if you called a wrong number or even dialed the right number and then changed your mind, you could slam down that clunky beige receiver and no one would be the wiser. Even if they picked up, you could swiftly hang up and all would be well.
No more. The machines, they know everything. They even know what I’m cooking for dinner.
By the way, I did make pancakes and sausage, and they were good, but had a slight sheepish taste.

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