Old Text Messages

What do you do with old text messages when you get a new phone?

Most text messages are trivial and disposable, and on my phone, those get dumped quickly. But sometimes a few words carry a lot of weight. Those messages get saved and they turn into history, each one preserving details that might have been forgotten without them.

The oldest messages on my current phone are from 2008, my daughter’s college graduation. Reviewing them brings to mind the look and feel of the arena, and the crowds gathering afterward on the athletic field to heap flower leis on the graduates, a Hawaii tradition.

Several months later there’s another message from my daughter, with two words, “Got dog.” Those two words immediately bring me back to that day when I was on the edge of cell phone range—text messages could get through, but not phone calls. My husband and I and a few others were striving to find our way down a ridgeline in a rainforest, where the trail that had been cut a few years earlier was now completely overgrown. That was an incredibly fun adventure, made better by knowing my daughter had finally been able to buy a puppy that she’d been hoping to find for months.

From my son, the classic text message dates from when he was in the Navy—“Going to Japan.” That was an exciting bit of news!

Incidents serious, poignant, or funny are preserved in other threads of abbreviated conversation.

And so it goes—little droplets of memory that bring to mind whole scenes and days, and because they have that power, I have a hard time simply pressing delete.

On my last phone, I think I figured out how to email my text and picture messages to my account . . . but I don’t know where those emails are now. Doubtless buried somewhere in my archives, but not exactly accessible.

My current phone will likely be replaced within a month, so I’m again facing the question of what to do with the historical text messages. I’m thinking of transposing them into a Word document, or maybe into my journal. I know I might never look at them again after that, but at least they’ll be there, waiting to ignite old memories if I ever do stumble across them again.

Linda Nagata is the Locus and Nebula award winning author of The Bohr Maker, Vast, and Memory, all available at Book View Cafe. Her latest book The Dread Hammer, is a fast-paced mythic fantasy of love, war, murder, marriage, and fate.

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Old Text Messages — 4 Comments

  1. Someone with mountains more tech savvy will know a better solution, but mine would be to print them out somehow — so last millennium! Or, if you can display them in a good visible way, take a photograph of the screen. A series of messages, like the graduation ones, would make a fine YouTube video — just the messages one right after the other.

  2. My darling sister has a method, she jots down in her journal all her text messages (I’m not sure if she includes the “ok”, “on my way” type messages). Sometimes she’ll get behind and the phone will tell her there’s no room to receive more messages so she’ll madly scribe a few so she can delete them and make room for the new. I, on the other hand, am completely unsentimental. I keep them all ’til it’s full then *BAM* delete the lot.