Have you ever noticed that people send texts in two different ways? (And I’m not talking about overuse of emoticons, either.) Some people use their index fingers to tap out their messages, whereas other people use their thumbs. And people never seems to vary how they do the texting, either. You’re either a thumber, or an indexer.
When you think about it, it’s a bit odd that there is no universally accepted method for efficiently and correctly performing what is now a widely used form of modern communication. It’s like watching someone sit down at a keyboard and then use a totally unknown approach to quickly and accurately typing out a document — say, by positioning their hands at each side of the keyboard or coming in from the top, rather than the bottom. Or handing someone a cell phone and watching them use the buttons to send a message in Morse code rather than speaking.
Both the thumb approach and the index approach seem to be equally functional — although, being a thumber myself, I firmly believe that the thumb method allows faster messaging. I wonder if the two methods exist side-by-side because texting is still a relatively new form of communication and we’re in the VHS versus Beta phase, where standardization hasn’t set in. The fact that there isn’t vocational training on texting — at least, to my knowledge, not yet — probably also contributes to texters having more freedom to develop their own favored method.
One thing is clear, however — thumbing versus indexing definitely has a different look. The index approach to tapping out a message is far more genteel and elegant, with the three unused fingers of the hand dangling to the side of the phone, giving the same kind of look projected by blue-haired sophisticates who sip their tea from delicate china cups with the pinky extended. The thumb approach, in contrast, treats the cell phone like a sturdy hand tool that you grip tightly and use to mash out a message without a second thought.
One approach is high society, the other is blue collar. Me, I’m a blue-collar guy.