Is it me, or is texting becoming really irritating?
Okay, it’s likely me. I’m a Baby Boomer.
I really don’t, for the most part, understand the phenomenon that texting has become. I mean, seriously, who wants to type out messages on a phone when you can just phone the person?
So, as I said, I’m a Baby Boomer, that is, one born between 1946 and 1965.
The next generation, Gen Y, runs 1965 – 1982 (yeah, a weird cut off date, but that’s what’s quoted).
Finally, there’s the Generation of a Thousand Names. Gen X, Echos, Boomer Echos, Generation Next, Net Generation…To keep it simple, I’ll call those born between 1982 and roughly 2000 by the label I usually hear, the Millenials.
I once heard that the distinction between the generations was:
- A Boomer says, “Let’s meet.”
- A Gen Y says, “Email me.”
- A Millenial says, “Text me.”
And I think that’s pretty damn accurate.
Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, we were taking my daughter and her friend somewhere. We had to wait until her friend got home before we could leave to pick her up. It was getting late, so I asked my daughter to find out how long the friend was going to be. Five minutes later, I looked at my daughter in exasperation. “Where is she?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “She hasn’t gotten back to me yet.”
“What do you mean?” Thinking, what, she called her but she didn’t pick up?
“I mean I texted her, but she hasn’t texted back yet.”
“Can’t you just call her? You know she has her phone with her.”
Then I got the eye-rolling look that said, Dad (dude), you’re so OLD.
So we waited for the friend to receive the text, then read the text, then formulate and type out a response, then send it, then my daughter to receive it and read it.
Then came the moment of illumination for me.
As I was railing against the stupidity of this generation refusing to just dial a number and ‘send’ and get an answer that not only is relatively immediate, but that you can also question and receive follow up information immediately as well, going on and on in the old fart way that I do, my daughter just chose to look amused at me. Which is fine. Happens frequently. But then she said something that initially struck me as hilariously dopey, but also, as I said, illuminating.
She said, “Wouldn’t it be great if they invented something like, where you can just talk into the phone, it converts it to text and sends it and whoever receives it gets it read to them?”
Never mind that they actually have that now… But my response was:
“Yes, honey. They have that right now. All you have to do is punch in a ten-digit code to access it. It’s called a phone number!”
At which point she realized what she had just said and we both laughed.
But thinking on it later, I realized, what she said defines her generation. They hate phoning. To the point where it’s nowhere near their first option for communication. They’ll text, they’ll Facebook, they’ll blog, they’ll tweet, they’ll tumblr, they’ll do anything but consider either face to face or phone.
This was also apparent to me a few years back when we went to Disney World in Florida. We happened to be there at the same time as a ton of cheerleaders. So, each day as we rode the bus to and from the park, I watched hundreds of approximately 15-year-olds (mostly girls) text messaging each other. Some were texting with the girl right beside them. How do I know? Because I’d watch the furious thumbs go on one phone, then stop. The girl beside her would read, look up at the first one and respond. Then thumb out a message of her own. Then the other would read, exclaim, then thumb something back again.
Around the same time, I was coaching someone I supported at work. He told me the story of a time when he was sitting on his couch watching TV. He got a text from his girlfriend, asking him some question. He read it, responded and hit ‘send’ and put his phone away. Seconds later, he got a “thanks” from his girlfriend who was sitting at the table directly behind him. It didn’t strike either of them as weird until then.
Add to that the numerous stories I’ve heard of people asking each other out over text, or breaking up with each other over text, or other things that definitely should be a face to face conversation.
It scares me a little that this is the generation that will possibly have less social interaction skills than previous ones. Though, you know, they can always google “social interaction” and watch a YouTube video on it. Likely starring someone that instead has no social interaction skills, or has Tourette’s, or is drunk and falls through a glass table or something. But still…
Don’t get me wrong, texting has its advantages, and I’ve been known to text occasionally. If I need to let my kids know we’re not going to be home when they’re coming home from school or whatever, I can send them a quick, discreet text. I just read a couple of articles on texting, one in which a doctor in Africa performed a life-saving operation using texted instructions from a friend in London. Again, why they just couldn’t put the phone on speaker, I’m not sure.
Then there’s the Des Moines, Iowa 15-year-old that won $50K for her texting abilities. This is a girl that sends 14,000 texts a month…and yes, I had to do the math on that one. Assuming she’s up for 16 hours a day, that means she’s averaging just shy of 30 texts every hour, or one every two minutes.
She’s 15! How does she get through a school day?
Anyway, in a two-day competition, she had to do certain tasks, such as texting blindfolded, or while walking a maze. She won in a tie-breaker by texting three lengthy phrases without making any mistakes on the required abbreviations, capitalization or punctuation. $50K. Bizarre.
So, yeah, texting definitely has its place.
But still, and yes, here’s the sound of the Old Fart Soapbox being hauled out yet again, why the hell can’t these people just put the damn thing down and talk? Or…you know, not.
C U L8R