Monday, July 5, 2010

Carrot or Stick?

Warning, small children should leave the room; adult content will be discussed.

A few years ago I just didn’t understand texting. Why would you take the time to tap out a message to someone’s cell phone when you can just call him or her on the very same device? Then one day I needed to get a message to a coworker that was in a meeting. I knew he wouldn’t take a call during the meeting, but I guessed that he would be able to glance at a message. Mission accomplished, and just like that I was on board with texting.

Maybe it’s because I work in technology that I discovered numerous scenarios where texting was the preferred method of communication, this however did not carry over to my personal life. A few friends have recently started to text now that so many devices like the Blackberry and the iPhone have full QWERTY keyboards, but there’s precious few who can, and will, type via triple-tapping (using a standard phone numeric pad to select letters, for example – you have to tap the #2 key 3 times to get a “c” – hence “triple tapping”) on a standard phone.

My husband was firmly in the camp of “it’s a cell phone, not a cell typewriter. Call me.” This frustrated me to no end. When I traveled internationally it was really expensive to make a phone call, so we were relegated to email for a week to 10 days at a time. I wanted to feel like I was talking to him, and text messages – because of their immediacy – do a pretty job of mimicking a conversation.

No matter how hard I tried, my husband had absolutely no interest in learning how to text message. He was fine with our email communication; that was enough technology for him. It’s probably worth mentioning here that my husband can be a bit technology-adverse about some things. For example, he doesn’t like updating his software; he declines every update offered. He’d still be on Windows 95 if he could. He also holds a pretty serious suspicion that it’s the anti-virus companies themselves that fund the hackers, thereby ensuring the success of their business model.

Then one day I got a bright idea; what was needed here was a carrot – some motivation - and because he’s a man, well I think you all know where I’m going with this. The following text message was sent to his cell phone:

“If you can figure out how to read this, there’ll be something in it for you tonight. If you can figure out how to reply to it, you’ll get bonus points.”

I thought this was perfect. I would say nothing and wait until that evening to see if he had figured out how to access the inbox on his phone and read the message. He would have to claim his prize; I wasn’t going to make it easy on him. Less than 10 minutes after I sent the message my phone chirped with a notification, the message read:

“How many bonus points and when can I use them?”

A carrot was the right call; we’ve been texting each other ever since.


  1. too funny, "woman sneaky" but funny

  2. What can I say, I work on computers for almost 12 - 14 hours a day and I just added texting to my phone about 3 weeks ago for my new iphone, now I am up to date. Text and surf the web....

  3. i can soooo relate to usual....funny as s#@t!!!