On Wexting and Other Woes

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Walking and texting in the wild.

In a world where it is considered appropriate to leave your phone face up at the dinner table, where one can find private text messages from an ex screen-captured and posted on Instagram for all to see, and where even Mary-Kate Olsen forces her wedding guests to forfeit their phones into a bowl... sometimes we just need a little bit of advice. 

Enter Mallory Ortberg, best known for writings such as an imagined dialogue with baby Foucault to unsolicited advice for Henry VIII's wives to fan fic about Kristen Stewart-as-a-girlfriend. Her "Texts From..." series on The Toast, where she imagined text message conversations between historical and literary figures, became a book last year called Texts From Jane Eyre. And as of November, she's becoming the newest Dear Prudence advice columnist at Slate. 

On this week's episode of Note to Self, we asked Mallory to put on her Prudence hat to help us answer just a few of questions we've received from listeners desperately seeking tech advice.

We're also taking this opportunity to test out a new app called Focus from our friend Kevin Holesh (the developer behind the Moment app, which tracks how much time you spend on your phone). It yells at you for walking and texting. Or, as we prefer to call it, "wexting."

Listen in to hear what she has to say on these questions, and to learn what, exactly, "wexting" is*:

Why Won't Anyone Respond to my Emails?

"I have noticed that it is often impossible to get people to respond to emails. Even to emails containing a direct question, even to work emails.  People may read them, but often don’t respond to them.  Do they forget to, or just not feel the need to respond? Should I be paranoid or is this an issue for other people as well?"

– Dulcie Arnold in New York

How Can I Avoid Social Media FOMO?

"I am constantly using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., and I do enjoy using them, so I don't want to just flat out stop. However, I do often get bad cases of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I am constantly feeling left out (even if I wouldn't even want to go if invited). I never feel content with what I'm doing myself. Even though I know most of these posts are taken to make it look like a really good time (even when it's not), I still fall for it." 

– Kynan in Australia

Is the "Wexting" Zombie Apocalypse Upon Us?

"I’d like to ask about... a phenomenon I call 'cell phone zombies.' It’s the people I have to be on the alert to avoid hitting because they’re walking the streets with their hands outstretched completely looking intently at their cell phones oblivious of their surroundings."

– Liel Biran in Israel

In this episode:

  • Mallory Ortberg, Slate's newest Dear Prudence
  • Kevin Holesh, the developer behind the anti-driving/walking and texting app Focus

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Music Playlist

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