The Alleged Insanity, Lifelessness, and Cultural Devastation of Intra-Home Texting

Note: This post was automatically generated from John’s weekly newsletter, The Daly Grind. If you encounter broken links or images, you can go here to read from the original newsletter: Read More

What does a pastor, a ventriloquist, and an ex-husband have in common? Each was a murder suspect in a police investigation covered in a recent episode of 20/20. I know this because my wife read me the synopsis off our bedroom television the other night, as I was headed back out to the living room.

She typically goes to bed before I do, and falls asleep to a true-crime show.

About 15 minutes later, as I was plugging away on my laptop, I heard her laugh out loud. She soon texted me this shot of what was on the television screen:

It made me laugh too. Beyond the reflexive humor of a ventriloquist murder-suspect, it reminded the two of us of a bit from one of our favorite comedy series, Arrested Development.

Anyway, since I found our little digital exchange amusing, I shared it on social media (along with the picture). Others found the anecdote humorous, but one fellow, who I’ve known online for a while, didn’t get the joke. More accurately, he didn’t understand its premise:

By “she,” he meant my wife. I clarified that we were in different rooms, not different buildings. This really threw Tony for a loop.


Apparently, to Tony, texting under the same roof is the equivalent of running down a city street naked, and flapping one’s arms like a chicken.

Others weighed in to affirm to Mr. Wendice that texting someone in a different part of the home is actually pretty normal (a common alternative to family members yelling back and forth across a house), but Tony still wasn’t buying it.

Get a life?

Tony wasn’t done. He grew absolutely incensed by the notion that digital communication within the home was in any way normal. To him, my wife sending me a silly photo of a ventriloquist and his puppet was deviant, perhaps even apocalyptic behavior.

This is why the world is so very fucked up?

Jeez, if I had known that, I would have just gone back into our bedroom and looked at the dang television myself.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking, but I assure you that Tony isn’t just some deranged internet troll. Like I said, I kind of know the guy, and have for a while. He’s an academic — a professor of film history, who I’ve had a number of intelligent discussions with over the years. He’s typically fairly rational, and I personally like him.

In fact, I have enough regard for Tony that I named a character after him in one of my Sean Coleman Thrillers… Well, kind of. “Tony Wendice” is an online pseudonym the professor uses. It’s not his real name, which is why I don’t feel guilty for drawing this kind of attention on him in today’s newsletter.

Anyway, because “Tony” is a bright and usually sensible guy, I took the time to further explain and rationalize intra-house texting to him.

For example, I told him that what he calls “bringing a phone to bed,” my wife and I call “charging our phones next to our bed so we’re in a position to hear and answer an emergency call from an ailing parent or one of our kids.”

That did no good either. Tony suggested that he would rather I preserve “human interaction” by needlessly letting my loved ones suffer… alone.

At this point, I was starting to suspect Tony was just joking with me, and I was about to kick myself for falling for it.

But sadly… that wasn’t the case.


Now, it’s entirely possible that the broader topic of texting struck a nerve with Tony on a personal level. Maybe a friend or partner ended a longtime relationship with him via text, and he has yet to heal. But I suspect this is more of a generational disconnect (pardon the pun).

Tony, I’m pretty sure, is an older guy. He reads about the adverse effects of too much screen-time and screen-addiction (which are absolutely real), but he clearly doesn’t understand — nor want to understand — that there are practical and quite harmless reasons for why people like my wife and me, even when we’re within relatively close proximity of each other, would exchange texts… or even just have our phones within physical reach when we’re home.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m fairly confident the problem isn’t with the Daly family’s intra-home cellphone practices. I think the problem may just be with the guy who believes it’s insane, indicative of not having a life, destructive of human interaction, and effing up the entire world… for the Dalys to be well-positioned to answer a late-night plea for help (or just send a funny picture of a ventriloquist and his puppet).

But if you disagree with me (as Tony does), I’d like to take this opportunity to strengthen my case by offering a few additional advantages of easy-access intra-home cellphone use. And if I’m lucky, Tony will one day read this week’s newsletter, reevaluate my cellular etiquette, and rescind my banishment from his life.

Informing someone downstairs of something going on upstairs (and vice versa)

When dinner’s ready, a single text to every family member in the house is an easy and convenient way of letting them all know to come to the kitchen (rather than yelling, ringing a loud bell, or walking up/down stairs and knocking on doors).

When one family remember receives notification that a service worker is about to arrive a the home, a quick text letting the rest of the family know that the dogs need to be brought inside, and that the stranger poking around in the yard shouldn’t be maced, can bypass a lot of unnecessary drama.

When one family member is letting the home’s beloved bearded-dragon run around for exercise on the carpet downstairs, and wants the door kept closed so the three dogs in the home don’t barge in and eat the bearded dragon, a simple warning-text is an easy and convenient way of avoiding unspeakable carnage.

When subtlety matters

When one family member is on a work-call, and another needs a quick answer on something from that individual, a subtle text exchange spares one from having to disrupt the phone conversation by annoyingly snapping, hand-waving, or whispering.

When it’s pertinent to exchange information regarding a third-party in the room, without that third-party being privy to it (such as discussing an event later that night that the third-party wasn’t invited to, coordinating — last-minute — on broaching an uncomfortable topic with the third-party, commenting on something embarrassing that the third-party is currently doing, or just taking an well-earned cheap-short at the third-party), a subtle text can spare feelings and awkwardness.

Spreading random acts of humor or cuteness

When one of man’s best friends is doing something especially cute (like chasing a butterfly outside) or funny (like sticking a rear paw in another’s face), circulating a quick live-shot brings a guaranteed smile to the rest of the family.

Or… when something non dog-related — like a funny meme, or a joke, or a visual representation of a ventriloquist murder-suspect — comes across one’s radar, that too can bring grins and chuckles under the same roof, without adversely affecting the family.

I mean, none of these things feel like they’re “destroying human interaction.” At worst I think they’re neutral, and at best I think they enhance human interaction.

Of course, it’s much harder to say that about a family, sitting in the same room, ignoring each other while they text friends, check emails, or play video games. But that’s a different topic. That’s not intra-home texting. Intra-home texting, in my view, is actually pretty great.


Do you text people inside your home? Or do you agree with Tony that doing so may lead to the destruction of the planet? Let me know in an email or in the comment section below.

We Interrupt This Week’s Newsletter for a Special Announcement

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Random Thought

Obligatory Dog Shot

(See the paw-to-face photo above.)

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(Due to length, I’ll pick this feature back up next week.)

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.

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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!

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