I'm not hip. I'm not in the loop. Therefore, I have never in my life sent a text. I know, I know, how have I survived? How do I know what's going on in the outside world? Well, I have these little devices called a computer and a telephone. Yes, my cell phone has texting capabilities--I only know because I've received some texts from one of my girlfriends.
Yes, I know about how much people want to constantly communicate, but of course, not by ever hearing or seeing each other. When my friend got divorced, she was eventually thrust into the world of dating once again. While we were visiting one day, her phone was going berserk. It wasn't phone calls though, it was the new way to stay in touch--texting. Of course I was curious..
Me: "Why is your phone vibrating all the time? You must have a million people trying to reach you."
Her: "No, it's just people texting me."
Me: "Why would they do that when it takes so much time? Isn't it a lot easier to call?"
Her: "Well, once you've done it for a while, it's actually pretty fast. This is how people communicate these days; they text. No one calls each other much."
Me: (baffled) "It seems like a lot of work to me..."
I'm still baffled by the cell phone/twitter/texting phenomenon. Since cell phones became available to the average Joe about 15 years ago, it seems that everywhere you go people are on their cell phones. Whether they are talking or texting, it seems that we Americans feel the need to be constantly in touch. What is it that is sooo important that we couldn't say it from the privacy of our homes? What is that text that we absolutely can't wait to send off that is causing us to drive extremely slow and without looking at the road/cars/pedestrians in front of us? I don't know, I guess I must be just out of it.
However, haven't you started wondering about the stats on this crazy addiction? There's a great NY Times piece here that talks all about it. Some of the interesting info I found was:
Dr. Martin Joffe, a pediatrician in Greenbrae, Calif., recently surveyed students at two local high schools and said he found that many were routinely sending hundreds of texts every day.
“That’s one every few minutes,” he said. “Then you hear that these kids are responding to texts late at night. That’s going to cause sleep issues in an age group that’s already plagued with sleep issues.”
“Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents, and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be,” she said. “Texting hits directly at both those jobs.”
Psychologists expect to see teenagers break free from their parents as they grow into autonomous adults, Professor Turkle went on, “but if technology makes something like staying in touch very, very easy, that’s harder to do; now you have adolescents who are texting their mothers 15 times a day, asking things like, ‘Should I get the red shoes or the blue shoes?’ ”
Of course the physical problems too:
Texting may also be taking a toll on teenagers’ thumbs. Annie Wagner, 15, a ninth-grade honor student in Bethesda, Md., used to text on her tiny LG phone as fast as she typed on a regular keyboard. A few months ago, she noticed a painful cramping in her thumbs. (Lately, she has been using the iPhone she got for her 15th birthday, and she says texting is slower and less painful.)
Peter W. Johnson, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington, said it was too early to tell whether this kind of stress is damaging. But he added,
“Based on our experiences with computer users, we know intensive repetitive use of the upper extremities can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, so we have some reason to be concerned that too much texting could lead to temporary or permanent damage to the thumbs.”
I guess as much as I'm baffled by the whole situation, I'm also a little disturbed. What's it going to be like when my daughter enters this stage? I don't want to be texting her a million times a day to find her. I've heard other adults who interact with teenagers say that the only way they can reach them is through texting--that they don't respond to phone calls or email anymore. Wow. Isn't it sad that technology that is supposed to be bringing us closer to each other is actually causing a bit of a wedge in the way that interact? I mean, I don't feel comfortable calling you, but I will take a few seconds to send you some text?
As great as this internet/wireless situation is, there are some serious downsides to it as well. I recently read this great talk by David A. Bednar where he shared this story:
Ric Hoogestraat is “a burly [53-year-old] man with a long gray ponytail, thick sideburns and a salt-and-pepper handlebar mustache. … [Ric spends] six hours a night and often 14 hours at a stretch on weekends as Dutch Hoorenbeek, his six-foot-nine, muscular … cyber-self. The character looks like a younger, physically enhanced version of [Ric].”
“[He] sits at his computer with the blinds drawn. … While his wife, Sue, watches television in the living room, Mr. Hoogestraat chats online with what appears on the screen to be a tall, slim redhead.
“He’s never met the woman outside of the computer world of Second Life, a well-chronicled digital fantasyland. … He’s never so much as spoken to her on the telephone. But their relationship has taken on curiously real dimensions. They own two dogs, pay a mortgage together and spend hours [in their cyberspace world] shopping at the mall and taking long motorcycle rides. … Their bond is so strong that three months ago, Mr. Hoogestraat asked Janet Spielman, the 38-year-old Canadian woman who controls the redhead, to become his virtual wife.
“The woman he’s legally wed to is not amused. ‘It’s really devastating,’ says Sue Hoogestraat, … who has been married to Mr. Hoogestraat for seven months.”
Isn't it super tricky that to think that when we're texting we're really being social, but in all actuality:
"important opportunities are missed for developing and improving interpersonal skills, for laughing and crying together, and for creating a rich and enduring bond of emotional intimacy. Progressively, seemingly innocent entertainment can become a form of pernicious enslavement.
To feel the warmth of a tender hug from an eternal companion or to see the sincerity in the eyes of another person as testimony is shared—all of these things experienced as they really are through the instrument of our physical body—could be sacrificed for a high fidelity fantasy that has no lasting value." (Bednar's talk again)
I just know that for me, there's something so dangerous about anything that is so addictive that it causes us physical pain and prevents us from making decisions on our own. I know it is certainly something that has value in many instances, but I just have to wonder, where's it going to lead?