Thursday, November 3, 2011

Texting replaces talking

Dear Ella,

Either I’m nuts, or everyone else is. OK,so I may be a little older, and maybe I’m not so “with it,” but I can’t understand how people communicate today.

I had the pleasure of spending the holidays with my daughter’s family. I have two bright, wonderful grandsons, 12 and 15. Except for their cellphones, the family functions quite normally, but what I witnessed was very disturbing.

Josh, the 15-year-old was sitting on the couch with his head buried in his iPhone. I thought he was playing a game. Within minutes, his angry brother appeared in the room with an iPad and grudgingly threw it at Josh. “What was that all about?” I asked.

“I texted him that his time was up and it was my turn,” Josh replied. My jaw dropped. He texted his brother, who was in the next room? Why couldn’t he get up and get the iPad? The next few days continued in the same manner. Very little talking, but lots of texting.

I see this in the streets too – people walking, standing, driving with their heads down and their thumbs moving on their devices. What happened to communication,to talking face to face and seeing expressions? Has LOL taken over the sound and sight of a real laugh? Is it me, or has the world gone mad?

Talk To Me

Dear Talk To Me,

There’s no question that texting has grown steadily in the last few years, and with the addition of full keyboards to most phones, technology has made it very convenient for people to use this as a new primary form of communication. What texting has essentially accomplished is the elimination of small talk.

No need for pleasantries – after all, it’s a text message. It’s meant to be succinct and quick. You want someone to know you are happy or sad, just add one of those emoticons.No more “How are you?” “What have you been up to?” “Did you hear about the latest?” Who needs to be burdened with unnecessary communication?

Parents are to blame as much as technology. They, too, set this kind of example, and most don’t impose boundaries. For example, not using cellphones in the house is a simple rule that would force family members to speak to each other. How about old-fashioned family nights where people actually talk and practice verbal banter? Our fast-paced society doesn’t allow time for everyone to be in the same place at the same time.

These kinds of family gatherings have gone the way of the dinosaur and have been replaced by mobile apps, video games and Facebook friends. What you need to do is force your grandchildren to talk to you. Engage them in conversation. Don’t just ask a question like “How’s school?” or you will get a one word answer: “Fine.” “What did you do today?” will get you, “Stuff.” Bring up an interesting subject, maybe sports. Your wanting to talk face to face makes you a minority. You’ll need to be creative if you want to break through and get the kids to look up.

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