The Downside of Texting

Texting is a phenomenon that continues to fascinate me.  On a daily basis I observe people with their little keypads furiously typing messages one would think were essential to the continuation of our species.  Generally, thumbs are used while the senders squint at the miniscule letters on those Barbie and Ken doll-sized keys and seem to derive some profound satisfaction at finally pushing the send button.

Even some of my older friends (ones over fifty) are hooked on texting.  For some it’s the only means to regular communication with their children, who so often these days have no skills for conversation.  For others, it gives a chance to say something (anything) while away from the computer when they aren’t in the mood actually to chat on a cellphone.  The annoying part for me is that when I’m with friends, the texting bell, whistle, buzz, or other signal on someone’s device goes off during conversation or a visit.  I find it appalling that people are slaves to those signals and often stop whatever they’re doing to find out what message has been sent. I have not yet been witness to any message more earth-shattering than “Hey, dude!  What’s up?”  The whole dynamic of texting has somewhat replaced the one for cellphones, my other nemesis.  Both modes of communication are surrogates for real communication among human beings and have at least partly obliterated social skills as we know them (used to know them).

The people who pretend to whine about the interruptions texting and cellphone calls present, are the same folks whose faces light up at being contacted, for any reason at all, no matter where.  I don’t understand the necessity to be shackled to a cellphone or texting device every minute of the day.  Does it provide a false sense of security, the illusion that we cannot be connected to others without this technology?  Popularity is sometimes measured among high school students by how many text messages they receive on an hourly basis.  Getting a text message during a meeting with friends that reads, “Hey!  What ya doin’?  I’m at Aldi in frozen foods” is for most people not important news, but it is a means of control that some find enticing, either for the fantasy that they are essential to the lives of other “texters”, or that they appear to be sought after in some way while in the company of other friends, who must tolerate such rudeness with equanimity just because it has become so very common.

Making oneself constantly available by cellphone and texting smacks of a kind of shallowness that frightens as well as irritates me.  People who are on cellphones or texting devices a good deal of the time are the same people who are oblivious to what’s going on around them.  We have all seen them in restaurants with family or friends, completely disengaged from those around them by that little phone or text keyboard.  Those who use either device while driving are beneath contempt, because they are forever endangering the lives of other drivers and pedestrians.  Of course, the cellphone and texting devices will eventually be replaced by other inventions that will make us believe that we human beings are more “connected” than ever, while the irony of separation continues to grow at an astronomical rate as communication becomes more and more superficial, and human beings feel increasingly alone.  JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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One Response to The Downside of Texting

  1. Tina S. says:

    So…the other night my hubby’s son and daughter-in-law came over to “visit” and spent the next thirty minutes click, click, clicking on their cell phones. No interaction with us nor between themselves. Or was there? Suddenly, my stepson exclaimed, “That is NOT a word!” Huh? “Oh,” he said, “We’re playing Scrabble!” Yes, they were playing a game of Scrabble with each other. In our living room. On their cell phones. Three feet away from one another. Mr. B, I just don’t get it. Or, as the kids say nowadays, “Wth?” Does that mean I am officially “old?” Ha ha ha! Oops! I mean LOL.

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