Generation Text

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On my bedside table rests a phone left-over from my Mother’s childhood home. It is the phone she grew up using and it is with this phone that she received her first calls from boys and discussed her life with family and friends. It is a shiny black, exceptionally heavy contraption which features the dial-up style of past years. I love it! But I can’t help but wonder if this phone is, in fact, a metaphor for the way things used to be. The super-solid structure implies a more solid foundation and character of those who came before us. There is no light-weight featherless feel to this phone—it resembles a ton of bricks. Additionally, the dial features forces you to slow down, think about who you are phoning and why. There are no speed dial features and the minimal cord does not afford roaming opportunity. Therefore, you are also required to give the person with whom you are speaking your full attention. Imagine that.

The written English language appears to be becoming obsolete. Handwritten notes, invitations and Christmas cards that do not include a computer print out summary of friends’ lives are a thing of the past. Rather, these days it is “cool” to not only communicate via the Internet and text, but many actually adopt this lingo in their everyday language as well using coined phrases such as
“LOL” or “OMG” when speaking aloud. Even companies are following this trend. Federal Express of olden days is now Fed Ex and Gatorade recently changed to simply “G.” I guess speaking three or four syllables is too much to ask.

My parents recall fondly stories of first crushes in middle school. Back then, the norm was to phone one another from a house phone either mounted to a wall or, if you were lucky, one similar to the one in my room. Conversations were not private as the mounted phone was almost always placed in the kitchen—the gathering place of the family unit. The conversational and listening skills necessary to becoming a successful adult were introduced, developed and practiced during these calls. Sadly, my generation has become one of laziness and instant gratification. Whimsical and featherless are we as we move from one thing to next in search of …what? We use abbreviated format rather than words. It is not uncommon to be engaged in multiple text conversations simultaneously. How is it possible to provide undivided attention while multi-tasking to that degree? It isn’t. I know of almost no one who speaks on the phone. Not the house phone or their cell phone. Everyone chooses texting over speaking.

I am rare for today’s teens. Although I possess a nice cell phone, I am not one to ever turn it on to speak or
text. My parents also are not your average parents. Most teens get into trouble for exceeding monthly minutes or text characters, I get threatened with removal of my cell phone if I do not use it on a more frequent basis. I guess it doesn’t seem right to pay a monthly bill for a service not being utilized.

Those closest to me know me well enough to call our home if they wish to speak with me. It has become a running joke that my cell phone is never turned on. More often than not, when they call, I am engaged in a great book such as Jane Eyre where language was beautiful and people were connected with one another. I am not quite certain why it bothers me so that my peers text so insanely. Perhaps it is the fact that texting provides ample opportunity to present yourself in a format that isn’t always true to who you are. People become bold with texts; often becoming rude and belligerent in ways which would be unacceptable in a social one-on-one situation. Then there is the issue of once a text is sent, it can be copied and forwarded to everyone in the community causing consternation for many—not to mention your potentially private number can be gathered and stored by all.

Additionally, texting offers an “easy out” when you wish to alter plans at the last minute. It is as if you are saying, “You’re not worth an apology or call, but the least I can do is text.” It is rude. Not to mention the danger of driving and texting. Accidents and fatalities, especially among teens, continue to rise yearly. So much so, in fact, there is current legislation attempting to illegalize texting or speaking on a cell phone while driving.

As for me, I’ll continue following the old fashioned way of my parents’ generation. I will always hand write invitations and Christmas cards and I will choose personal interaction before technology. I wish you’d do the same.





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