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I read an article recently that ten percent of Americans do not own a cell phone.  Really?  How can they possibly hope to speak the new age language of texting?  The stats must be heavily skewed to include religious orders who take vows of silence, full time participants of historical reenactment parks, and children under the age of five (though I’ve heard many of this age class are born with innate skill).  It’s hard to fathom a subclass of people who don’t text at red lights, standing at the check-out counter, or sending text replies while pretending to listen — standing in front of me, as if I can’t see them ignoring me.

Before I continue on this diatribe, I must first confess that I am officially cell texting challenged. Unlike my daughter, whose thumbs fly on her IPhone touch screen, I meticulously touch each letter as if writing longhand (which drives her batty, to the point of grabbing the cell from my hands with a heavy sigh — “Let me DO IT”).  When she’s done, my message, is composed in a short hand I can’t read.

For those who know me, I’m a late entrant to the cell phone craze.  I had one for work, but that was work. When it came time to consider a personal cell, I opted for simplicity – making phone calls.  If you wanted to text, it cost extra.  Screw that.  I believe in that personal touch with a human voice, where you can hear subtle tonal inflections of puzzlement, anger, degree of inebriation.  You don’t get that with texting.  However, progress, like weeds, cannot be subdued.   I was wrenched into modern communications involuntarily when we went to a family plan to save money.  Everyone got IPhones with an all-you-can-eat texting plan.  Daughter was ecstatic.  I upped my intake of vodka.

That first howl laughter when I asked what ROTFL meant, still haunts me.  I thought someone was calling me something dirty.  Some I could decipher on my own, like B4, 2day, and WTF.  When it came to TLK2UL8R (talk to you later), I was way out of my comfort zone, tempted to stomp on the cell with a venomous UG2BK (you got to be kidding).  When someone texted a request for my 411, I answered SRY, they had the wrong number, hang up and dial 911.  Imagine my embarrassment when someone texted TTYL, an even shorter version of “talk to you later”, and I thought it was a suggestion for a large bra size.  I mean, 4COL (for crying out loud), I sucked at this.

Courtesy of Ambro_Freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of Ambro_Freedigitalphotos.net

Kids no longer talk, they text, often to someone sitting right next to them.  IMO, texting has become conversational spam; abbreviated conversation in special characters like the console buttons of a science fiction movie.  What we say and how we say it, is more than mere words.  We can’t feel what the person is saying when texting.  RUOK offers the expressive equivalent of the ship’s computer in the 60’s Star Trek series.  Hell, R2D2 had better emotional range.  I’d like to enlarge the “No Texting” campaign with stickers on every cell phone — “Call Me.”  We can use the popular Carly Rae Jepsen song if she’ll let us drop the “maybe”.

Texting has its place, like making appointments, checking in, but like writing, we lose our storytelling voice whenever we engage in texting for anything meaningful.  Unless all you want to say is BBIAS (be back in a sec), use the modern com device option by speaking a name, let it dial hands free, and treasure the gift of a human voice.

And remember — NTWD (No Texting While Driving).


Translation for the monks at Our Lady of Perpetual Silence:  At the end of the day, Why Text Back Later, read the message above, and please call me to talk to you later. Peace, Love, Out.