No Time for TalkPosted by Fred
I remember when I thought communication was two Campbell’s soup cans with a string in-between. That home made ‘walkie-talkie’ was not only a blast but it taught a couple of young kids something-or-other about sound conductivity. Besides, it really didn’t cost much and I could see my friend Ralphie over at the other end. There were [only] two things wrong with this device: Sometimes the string would break if you pulled it too tight, and you had to eat the soup before you could use the cans.
About ten years later, I discovered a more stimulating method of communication. It had nothing to do with walkie-talkies, string or my friend Ralphie. We called it ‘legalized.’ Nobody ever talked much about just what it was that was legalized but instead of soup cans, it involved dancing really close with a girl. There were no formal steps and it didn’t matter what music was playing … or if there was music playing at all! One of the many added benefits was, you didn’t have to eat any soup.
Enter 21st Century technology: Electronic games, e-mails, chat rooms, cell phones and now the wonderful world of text messaging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a technology junkie. Like most guys I love dials, buttons and flashing lights, whether or not they serve a purpose. Some guys can be entertained for hours by almost any shiny metal object, but that’s pretty extreme … still I don’t guess I’ll ever get a grip on the whole idea behind texting.
I mean, if someone hands me a telephone my first impulse is to speak into it, not to write on it. Call me crazy, but I like the warmth of a human voice at the other end plus there’s less margin for error when you can hear the other person’s vocal inflection. For instance, if your wife texts you the message, “I’m mad” that’s informative but sort of vague; on the phone, you can actually hear just how much trouble you’re in. The only higher level of communication would be to see the corners of her eyes scrunch up and that little vein pop out on her forehead. However fear not, that questionable ability is already edging its way into cell phone circles with picture phones! And you wanna’ text?
If I stick with traditional phone functions, I don’t have to pick at a bunch of tiny rice-size buttons with my not-so-tiny ham-size fingers or worry about my speling … yet my response from the person at other end is every bit as fast as I used to get from Ralphie with the soup cans. Hm-m-m. Of course, the act of texting employs so many abbreviations [CU@4] that most grammar rules are tossed to the wind and no one really cares whether cat is spelled with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’.
When I was a kid we were never inside, except for rainy afternoons when we drove our parents crazy. These days ‘Computer Potatoes’ are getting so bad, the government is trying to mandate that kids be pushed outside to play for at least an hour per day. Inhaling a molecule or two of fresh air is fine but working on a few social skills may be even more important somewhere down the road. Getting along comfortably with others isn’t part of everyone’s DNA; it takes effort and is something that’s tough to work on alone … or with one’s face leaving nose prints on the screen of a computer or cell phone.
I think I may have witnessed the ultimate in un-communication the other day when I saw two kids sitting together on a pair of swings, not saying a word but sending TEXT messages to each other! How ironic that the very electronic marvels we’ve invented to expand our universe have, instead, begun to isolate so many of us in our own, private little caves.
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