Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Keeping old text messages

Every time I get a text message these days, I have to erase the one I've gotten before. From a phone with a capacity for 200 texts, I have 197 messages dating from November 4, 2005 to January 21 of 2009.

Am I the only one who does this?

Anyone who spends time with me will tell you I'm a divil for distraction, needing to do a couple of things as well as try, often in vain, to focus on what I should be doing. I think that's why I twitter so much at events - my mind refuses to be idle. I've tried to get out of the routine of checking the phone compulsively - unless I'm waiting for a call or text - but it's become such a habit for me that I predictive text without looking and will, very rudely, just interrupt conversations at times to check my phone, reply to a text, check the email or take a call. I'm trying to stop but as with any habit-breaking initiative, it's taking time.

Photo by Grannymar

Words are important to me. Far more than photos or dates, words about a time in my life, a specific event, a personal feeling, a connection with someone evoke a glad, almost visceral feeling within that I revel in. The first time I read a particular book, the first time I hear certain lyrics, the congratulatory email for a job well done, the first time someone says they love you. All these and so much more are important and if I had been any good a diarist through my life, I'd have been able to keep track of them. For now though, I only have texts. Emails disappear into the vast recesses of Gmail, stumbled upon usually, looking for something else.

I scroll through my phone occasionally, ordinarily on the bus, both to find a particular text or to see what's there. Don't worry, I haven't got all the 'Meteor would like to offer you' texts, the impersonal 'Happy Christmas to all my phonebook' texts or the redundant 'grand, see you there' texts. They're deleted if and when they're replied to.

I gave up keeping negative, abusive or pointless angry texts a long time ago - I don't see the point. Mid a failed attempt at reconciliation last year, someone told me they had "kept all the emails and texts as a record", which means that they're carrying around useless words that exoke a negative reaction every time they read them. I fail to see how it would help. Erase, remember, learn, move on.

My texts are either positive or funny or from a really good experience. Ranging from the very first, romantic:

I love you! I'm so happy we're together! Xxx 04/11/2005 07:19:05
to the thoughtful (I was living in London at the time):
Ul b happy to bear that theres a big crowd arnd Pat Ingoldsby's new book launch on d path. His sign says 'Join my book club and pay double for everything'... 18/11/2005 15:35:06
To the gratifying
Darragh thank you so much for all your help. The night was a great success. Your help was invaluable. Helen.
03/12/2006 11:18:54
To the first text messages
Hi Darragh, Niamh here. How's ur evening going?
13/02/2007 19:31:37
To the random
Is have to o wake up in two hours and i have a drunk girl on me arm so going to mobil u naill email you tomorow is that ok? 17/05/2007 01:20:49
To the inappropriate but funny forwards
I went 2c the nurse for my annual health check this mornin She said, "I think u should stop masturbating" I asked, "why?" She said, "Because I'm trying to examine u" 28/06/2007 18:01:53
To the confessions
I never told you but when you first moved to London, and we met at Dun Laoighre, I sat on the pier bawling listening to fix you bu coldplay. Watching the ferry. 26/07/2007 21:13:59
To the zeitgest
Spiderpig, spiderpig, does whatever a Spiderpig can. Can he hang from a web? No he can't 'Cause he's a pig
28/07/2007 21:36:05
To the "you'd really have to have been there"
Sleeping in jeep 04/08/2007 02:55:44
To the hard to believe but true
House closed at 3.30 today. Your bags are about to be given to security as UNCLAIMED. You need to pick them up in the next 15 mins or they will be destroyed. PLEASE COLLECT NOW 17/12/2007 15:57:48
To the utterly sentimental
Never say ur happy when ur sad, never say ur fine when ur not ok, never say u feel good when u feel bad and never say ur alone when you've got me 13/03/2008 22:33:46
To the self fulfilling prophecy
You and I need to have that couple of pints a bit more often. 19/03/2008 18:46:40
To the ah brilliant!
I have news anne just agreed to marry me were engaged 26/04/2008 14:33:37
To the spotted
That u on failte towers? 09/08/2008 22:21:32
And even in my sent items, the five I keep portray a rather poignant, if somewhat random and personal insight into my mind or the focus on the recipient at the time of sending:
The road to my hell is paved with my good intentions.
"How can your life be satisfied with small realities if your heart has big dreams? Read the quote and thought of you.
I love you. first instinct impressions are always right. x x
But, while you sit there either laughing at my attachment issues, shaking your head in despair at my disclosure, in disbelief at the shameless expression and with pity for someone who keeps such texts, let me tell you - it used to be a lot worse.

A whole lot worse

I used to write them down.

Yes indeed, pre 2007 and the phones that came with bigger memory capacity, when I didn't know the current posse of amigos I'm blessed with, I would spend time faithfully transcribing, as above, all the texts into notebooks. The front for to-do lists and all that, the back for the text messages. They were mostly - if not all - from the girlfriend at the time. You know, something to show the grandkids when we got older? 'Look kids, here's when your Gran and I went on a date and she said it was good'. 'Look here, it's when we arranged to meet outside of Trinity one day she'd finished college early'. Honestly, it's acutely embarrassing to look back at how naive I was.

I went through one the other day. I always wondered if it would make the basis for a good book. Seems not. I cringed at some of the memories. But, the blog needs feeding and I thought someone, somewhere just may keep their text messages, may like the thought that at some stage in a day, someone thought enough about them to tap words into the phone and that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't such a

*beep beep*

Hang on. There's a text on my phone.


  1. lol - You're such a knob and I love you for it.

    "Sleeping in jeep 04/08/2007 02:55:44"

    I am laughing my arse off at this.

  2. I tend to build them up in my inbox and delete them whenever it becomes full. For a capacity of only 75 messages, it still doesn't need emptying for around 2 months.

    Sometimes it's good to read back through them, although it does take me a while to remember what the context of the conversation was...

  3. Awww, I love this post. LOVE IT!!

    I have an entire folder of saved ones... "you never fail. ever."

    I'm getting quite emotional now.

  4. I was absolutely loving that right up to the mountain of notebooks....

  5. I do keep certain messages. I'm thinking specifically here of a mate that died in 2007. Good post mate.

  6. What Anthony said. I'm in work and that post helped.

  7. Notebooks. Jesus, Darragh. If you didn't have a bigger phone capacity would you still be doing it?

  8. f*cking hell hahahahaha

    brilliant! was going pretty bloody well then it descended towards insanely hilarious with the notepads

  9. Brilliant! I'd love to have a record like that! I don't keep texts, but I do keep all the tiny pieces of paper I had in class, with notes to friends on them.
    I love momentoes like that!
    Although notebooks is taking it a bit further than I ever would!!

  10. i've kept four texts: the first text i've ever received, one from a friend in belgium telling me her dad had passed peacefully and thanks for 'being' there, another from the same friend telling me she passed my letter to someone at HQ in dublin, and one from my husband saying he forgot to put the garbage out - his first ever text (considering he has difficulty with email, a text was a wonderful surprise)

    books of texts? i had to smile.

  11. Great post and yes the end was the funniest!
    I've been keeping texts for the last 3 years or so. Ones i like go into a save folder. I have ones when I went to see OJ for the first time, when my last nephew was born,, happy birthday texts, ones from my friend Mark who is insane and sends the most random texts in the world, and ones people sent me when they hear a song by a band I like and say they were thinking about me.
    I like reading through them sometimes. I need to do something with them before my phone dies though.

  12. For 2 years I saved all the wonderful messages Jen sent me, then my phone got nicked, and ever since my heart has been broken for the loss of them. I had even kept the very first messages we sent each other, and the messages that brought us together.


    Today I don't bother. Too jaded by the loss of them all.

  13. I deleted all my text yesterday during the PR/Blogger meet and greet. It made me uneasy to do so.

    so many memories....

  14. My fella has kept every text I've sent him since we met 6 months ago, which I think is gas. I only started saving messages in the last while and they're all ones I've particularly liked from him, it's lovely to read back over them!

  15. God, your post just made me look through some messages I've kept and I had to stop after 12 of them due to an inability to read through tears. Fabarooney post dude, and it's so good to know that other people do this too :)

    Happy Thursday.

  16. I do the same thing. Those notebooks.. I wish I had the patience to do that kind of thing. It's not freaky or strange; it is endearing.. in a creepy way. You're making memories for yourself. =] It's great to look back.

  17. It is hard in these days of information overload to discern which information is the most important, what to keep. Somebody somewhere (I think my mum) has an old phone of mine with the text announcing the birth of my first child. That's the kind of text that should be kept but then again sending that text was not the most important communication that day. Ringing home was and knowing when my brother answered that he would always be chuffed that he was the very first person to hear "I had a boy!" That you can't keep except in your head. Nice one Darragh - as always a different take on life!

  18. Thats a whole lotta notebooks :-)
    Its good to keep stuff like that, makes you feel you're nice alone - nice post

  19. Can just see it now... On a coffee table somewhere "The Lil' Book Of Text - Darragh Doyle". You could just be ahead of your time! It's a grower ;)


  20. I have a palm treo and it keeps texts for years - off to find some gems now!

  21. Your notebook photo puts me in mind of the movie Se7en.

    One man's 'Yes, I am that sad' is another's 'Yes, he is that scary'.

  22. Darren: I was too :) Ahh the memories!

    TheChrisD: I think I'm just too lazy to delete. Sometimes I go through and find ones I have no memory of. Delete, delete!

    Orpees: Thanks. My phone doesn't have folders, or if it does, I don't know how to find them :-/

    Xbox4NappyRash: Well, see, that's the flip side!

    Anthony: I can understand that. Me too.

    Radge: Happy to oblige!

    jothemama: No, no I don'd think I would. First love and all that. Though for some of them, perhaps.

    B'dum: Glad you liked it.

    Aislinn: Hey there. If I'd had my way I'd have kept pretty much every record I could of things - builds up quite a picture. As it is though I hoard far too much.

    Donna: What lovely texts! I'm still considering a book about it. Maybe.

    Jennifer: Jennifer, I have to ask, quite seriously because I'm curious and completely ignorant - how does a blind person read texts? Do you have a special phone?

    I've been looking for some way to transfer texts to computer but so far, nothing.

    Sinéad: Awh no! That's completely understandable.

    Matt: Hi there. Was there something that inspired you to do so?

    Kitty Cat: See now, something to show the kids ;-) It's funny how those few characters can spark you off, isn't it?

    MJ: Sometimes it's great to look back. I just remember the times we had and think "wow"

    Roseanne: Sin mise! However it's always great to get the "announcing the birth of" texts, brings you that bit closer to the couple.

    Nick: Hey, it sure is. Most of them are to-do lists with all the things on the last to do lists plus loads more. I miss doing that actually.

    Keith: Would anyone buy it though? Maybe, I suppose. All part of the story!

    Quickroute: Lucky you - let us know what you find.

    Gimme: Ha. Thanks for your comment!

  23. Darragh I have a speech program called talks installed on an ordinary Nokia phone (well its at least three years old now so I need a new one) and it reads everything on the screen. So I can send texts, hear the menus and everything else in synthasised speech. Most people think the voice is annoying, but my computer uses the same one, so I hear that voice just as much as I hear human voices.
    I learned to text long before I got a talking phone, just by remembering where the letters are. Only problem then was someone had to read all my messages, which was often my mum if I was at home, and as you can imagine that wasn't always good.

  24. there is software that can take text messages from your phone and store it on pc.

    might help free up some memory :D

  25. Love it! I do the same. Delete a big chunk of them when I purge my life, but have over 100 in the special, never to be deleted file.

    I've a similar stack of notebooks too. I tell myself that one day they'll be fodder for a memoir. For the moment though, I'm just happy to look at my handiwork (I've enough diaries written to have a few novels) and look forward to days that I can look back and laugh. :)