R U There?

I’m actually rather proud of the way I’ve embraced the digital revolution.  Of course, raising a child who seemed born with bytes instead of a brain kind of pulled me into the technological age, whether I wanted to be there or not.  But generally, I’ve adapted to modern forms of communication with ease.

An uneasy typist, I quickly fell in love with word processing and the ability to fix all my typing errors with the flick of a wrist.  No more White-Out, or those ridiculous correction cartridges I once used in the electric typewriter.

E-mail is SO handy, especially for someone like me who finds it a real struggle to call people on the telephone.  Don’t ask me why.  Something about interrupting people in the middle of their busy lives when they might be doing something important or interesting just scares me silly.  Using e-mail makes it easy to impart the necessary information which they can then read and respond to at their leisure.

And although I don’t like telephones that much, I love my cell phone.  Because I’m also the world’s worst worrier, it comforts me to know that the people I care about can contact me no matter where I am (except in the bathroom…I won’t answer the phone in the bathroom, even though I’ve witnessed the fact that some people actually do.)

But it’s taking me a bit longer to embrace texting.  One of the biggest problems I have with texting is physically doing it.  You see, I inherited these ugly, fat thumbs from some ancient middle-eastern ancestor – hammerhead thumbs, they’re called, and I’ve determined they can be traced directly from my paternal line.  These obnoxious digits easily cover an entire row of keys on the teeny tiny phone keyboard.  In order to text with any degree of accuracy, I have to press the keys with the tip of my thumbnail.   If I can set the phone down on a flat surface, I do better using my index fingers, like typing on a regular keyboard.  But sometimes it’s impossible to do that.  Like the other morning when  I was walking the dogs and trying to answer a text message at the same time – while wearing gloves. It’s ridiculous.

Why didn’t I just call the person back, you ask?

Good question.

That’s the other thing about texting.  I find myself involved in these long text message conversations with people.  They might start out with something as simple as R U there? and then segue into a protracted exchange.   Why in the world don’t we just dial each other up and talk on the darn phone?  Isn’t that what they were invented for after all?  What would Alexander Graham Bell have to say if he could see all us of trying to write messages on this thing he worked so hard to invent purposely so that we could actually speak to one another?  Once I get started on a text conversation, I find myself  powerless to stop, as if I’ve been sucked  into this vortex and can’t fight my way to solid ground.

Personally, I like to text people just for simple things.  For instance, at the end of the workday, I might text my husband and ask “When will u b home?”

My phone buzzes.  He replies “lving soon.”

But then I wonder -am I supposed to respond?  Will he know I got that message?

So I text back -“ok~good.”

My phone buzzes again – “will you P-U dogs?”

“Yes” I answer.

Buzzz. “I’ll get mail,” he replies.

“k” I respond (praying that this will be the end of the conversation).

I wait with baited breath.

Silence.

I breath a sigh of relief and start shutting down my work computer.

Buzzzzzzzz.

“don’t 4get 2 stop at the bank.”

Fine.  I’m not answering this one.  I hurry up and shove my phone in my purse, hastily get into my coat and gloves, and head out to my car.  I’m just about to put the key in the ignition, when a virulent buzz begins inside my purse.  I pull out the phone and see that I have one new text message from Jim.

“R U there?”

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21 thoughts on “R U There?

  1. caught my daughter engaged in a similar text conversation just the other day, something about where she was going to meet a friend in the next few hours… “why don’t you just call X and figure things out?” I asked. “But it would all be over so quickly,” she said. Makes me wonder if that’s the point, then, of these text conversations: just to make the connection last a little longer.

    • Now there’s an interesting thought. Prolonging the connection…yes, it does take longer, mores the pity, to text these long conversations then to just discuss things verbally. Another reason for me to stop doing it!

      I wondered why kids are so intent on texting so much. I’ve heard they’ll text each other when they’re sitting in the same room. That seems really strange.

  2. I suppose you don’t need to hear that schools are having to institute “procedures” to counteract text-cheating on exams. The kids are so proficient they can text with their phones in their pockets.

    I’ve never texted in my life. I don’t really even know what goes on when people are texting – that’s why posts like this are so useful to me. I’ve never thought I needed to text, and this proves it to me. No wonder people feel so – what? Distracted. Anxious. Whatever.

    I saw the funniest thing in Gerard Van der Leun’s American Digest. You may get a kick out of it too – you can see it here.

    • That cartoon is perfect – it is a huge black hole!
      Like any new technology, texting has its practical uses. It can be a quick and easy way to convey information to someone if you’re in a situation where one or both parties cannot take a phone call. (The “Running late” message or the “Be there soon” message, or the “Meet me at the deli at noon” message.)

      But when I hear the teenagers are using texts to cheat on texts and have thousands of text messages on their phones each month – well, that just scares me. It’s too weird.

  3. I’m a terrible texter! Awful, slow, inept. It would be faster to walk to where the other person is and just say whatever it is that needs saying. But…I wouldn’t mind learning. It looks kind of fun.

    • I’ve sort of been forced to learn because my husband texts me quite a bit, and I have several friends who do as well. It comes in handy…but sometimes it gets sort of ridiculous;)

  4. I just had a conversation today with someone who doesn’t text about how I don’t even like to listen to voicemail anymore and would much prefer people to text me so I can read it when it’s convenient. He didn’t get it at all.
    And I agree with shore acres, as a high school administrator, I can verify that texting is a ridiculous problem.

    • The thing about texts is that I feel compelled to read them and respond right away, as if I were engaged in an actual conversation. I think kids treat them as email sometimes, and wait until later to respond. I can imagine it must be a nightmare for teachers these days.

  5. Do you have a smart phone or a regular flip cell phone? I only ask because I know the smart phones have bigger keyboards which might make it easier to type / text. And you can get one without adding the data/internet plan which is like, $30 extra.
    Becca… my mom has no idea how to turn on a computer. She has a top of the line cell phone but she can’t figure out how to text despite my siblings and I showing her numerous times. My dad is better – we bookmarked all of his Serbian news websites so he knows how to get onto the internet and read the dailies .. but that’s about it. He doesn’t text either.
    I’m wondering though if this might be a blessing b/c on those days when I try to avoid mom’s phone calls… I am so thankful she doesn’t know how to text (LOL).

    • I do have a phone with an actual keyboard, and that’s helped. It’s my fat thumbs that are the problem (lol).

      I find something of a demarcation line in terms of age among my friends who are technologically savyy. Seems like those who are over 60-65 have the hardest time adopting some of these things. Makes sense, I suppose. Oddly enough, my son rarely texts, and said the only reason he got a minimal text plan on his iphone was to respond to OUR texts to him!

      • Hey,hey,hey!

        Alternate interpretation of why those of us over 60-65 don’t text as much: we’re entirelyl savvy enough to move through the cyber-world (see my blog) BUT we also are wise and experienced enough to understand that there’s a difference between a fad and a useful tool. 😉

        The truth of the matter is, if I had a real NEED to text, I could figure it out in a day. But since I have no need, there’s no reason to spend precious dollars on the hardware or a plan.

  6. OMG! (Just kidding) But this post is so funny. From the “textversation” with your husband to “bytes for brains.” I’ve found texting much easier since I got an android phone with a slide out keypad… but you’re right, the buttons are tiny. I agree with you about email. But with texting, there always comes a point where I pick up the phone. When someone asks me a yes or no question, I’m usually difficult to pin down. When it gets complicated, I call.

  7. my mom is the only one who really texts me regularly but if she needs a reply I usually phone

    my husband & friends always phone, I like that more. Seems like you use texting as a chat application (hah, that’s something I do constantly, always on some instant messaging tool online).

  8. You have my complete sympathy regarding your ‘big thumb syndrome’–i have it too!!And it does make texting harder, even with a slide out keyboard that is (hallelujah!) a real qwerty keyboard, rather than the traditional texting kind, which makes NO sense to me.
    It’s funny, Becca. If I phone my daughter to find out when/if she’ll be home, I never get a response. But if I text her, she’s right there. We’ve had better “textversations” than face-on conversations…Sad, huh?

    • I have a young woman friend who regularly texts me about her relationship problems and other emotional issues. I haven’t quite gotten my head around why young people are so taken up with this method of communication. I’m sure psychologists are studying it – I’d be interested to learn about some theories.

    • I don’t think I’ll ever get addicted to texting. I do it, but it’s definitely not my favorite form of communication. Guess I’m too much of a word-a-holic. I like to write loooong messages and use big words!

  9. Big giggles! I don’t much like the phone, either and love email.I have to tweet for work; hate it. I’ve never been brief in my life. 140 characters doesn’t cut it. And I hate abbreviations — CU L8R — license plate speak. No wonder kids can’t spell. No texting for this girl — maybe someday (never say never) but not till I have to. My VERY old cell phone is fine for emergencies and travel. Other than that I’ll settle for the ‘puter and good conversations with friends!

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