Roses Are Red, Text Messages Are Disposable Digital forms of communication, like text messages and e-mails, are designed to be more instantaneous — and more disposable than their mustier predecessor, the letter. So what happens to a hopeless romantic hoarding her text messages like love letters? As commentator Elizabeth Tannen reports: insanity.

Roses Are Red, Text Messages Are Disposable

Ever save a text message? hide caption

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Ever save a text message?

Elizabeth Tannen is a writer currently living in Brooklyn. She still refuses to hit "delete all." Courtesy of Elizabeth Tannen hide caption

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Courtesy of Elizabeth Tannen

It's come down to one text message.

One inane, amusingly absurd text message from a man I dated so briefly that my friends knew him only by the requisite nickname that he, like all short-lived and insignificant flings, was assigned.

For this single, two-sentence message, I have taken to suffering through what is often a multiple-times-daily routine of sifting through and deleting other, presumably less significant, text messages so that my prehistoric Samsung will allow me to send and receive further, presumably more significant, text messages.

"Doesn't your phone have the delete all feature?" my best friend inquired the other night as she saw me flummoxed and annoyed at a Brooklyn bar, bogged down in one of my daily deleting frenzies.

"Well, I do ..." I responded to her confused stare. "It's just that there are some ... that I don't want to delete."

If you're a woman and you have a best friend you understand that I had no choice but to produce the save-worthy message immediately.

It was then, as I scrolled down to the bottom of my inbox, that I saw the extent of my keepsakes was exactly two messages: the one alluded to above (from "The Immunologist" and sent at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday: "Do you want to come over? I have ravioli!"), plus another early flirtation from a similarly brief boyfriend whom another friend had christened SHEMB: Suddenly He's My Boyfriend. Equally suddenly, he wasn't.

I was certain that SHEMB, at least, had authored other, more charming and less mundane messages, and yet for some reason the one I'd held on to was the one in which he'd invited me over for a meal of home-cooked "Okie Fusion."

Before my friend could call upon me to read the message out loud, I announced that it must be deleted.

"I don't know why I saved that for so long ..." I muttered, both of us peering anxiously over the screen.

"Well, 'cowboy extraordinaire' is cute," she admitted, quickly adding, "but not that cute."

Feeling slightly empowered and more than slightly ridiculous, I hit delete.

My inbox, I then realized, was clogged — not with the meaningful messages I had thought I was protecting, but rather with the accumulated quotidian clutter of the past few months' plan-making. It turned out that, over time, enough run-ins with the dreaded "SIM FULL" logo on my phone's screen had produced sufficient fits of erasures to eliminate the bulk of those high-value texts that I, at various stages of infatuation, had intended to keep.

How, I wondered, did so many years of text hoarding dwindle down to these two, completely unimportant texts?

Like so many things, in hindsight the pattern is relatively clear. It goes something like this: I become interested in a boy. He courts me with a couple of cute/witty/flirtatious text messages. He loses interest. I save said texts as evidence that once, someone was interested in me. Sooner or later someone else appears, along with his own batch of seductive messages. At first I hesitate to delete those from the prior object of my affection, fond as I am of revisiting old texts and recalling the happy times (however brief) of previous relationships. I relish these sessions the way I imagine people relished sifting through old photographs, back when people printed them, or looking through old love letters — back when those were the fashionable form of courtship.

These are tough times for a hopeless romantic.