Texting, sexting, chatting, and chirping out messages like a cyber bluebird on crack may all sound great to people who like to keep up with the latest communications technology. Entertainment reviews, unsolicited opinions (like the one you’re reading), celebrity status reports, and the latest funeral of yet another ill-fated Hollywood marriage do not compel me to IM my BFF while I’m LMAO at a tiny table in a local Starbucks. But that’s just me.
The rate at which information, much of which is trivial drivel, passes between people contributes to the instant gratification obsession of the current generation. No one can wait for anything. Add to that the dependency on wireless technology for even the simplest cognitive exercises, and the future looks more frightening than Will Ferrell’s pale, furry physique in a Speedo. Without the renewed popularity of opposable thumbs, teenagers would be staring dumbly at each other, unable to communicate with anything more than grunts and hand signals. Oh wait, that’s my husband when he’s around his brothers.
Even younger kids aren’t immune to the HD and digital diseases. Neighborhood children frequent my house, often requesting use of the telephone. I think they’re just looking for an excuse to make fun of me, the little rodentss. A conversation took place in my home a few weeks ago, illustrating the adaptation of children living in a high-tech society.
Neighborhood menace: Miss Jill, can I use your phone? (We’re in the south, y’all. You’re either “Miss” or “Ma’am” and, believe me, you get way more cookies with “Miss”. I’ve damn near cuffed the Bluetooth right off a guy’s ear for calling me “Ma’am.” Don’t risk it. )
Me: Go ahead. (I hand him the cordless phone. He presses a button, holds the phone to his ear for a few seconds, then looks up at me in bewilderment. )
Neighborhood menace: It’s just making this humming sound. (He provides a brief demo. I hoped he was hearing a coded frequency call for his return to the mother ship. No such luck.)
Me: (eyeroll) That would be a dial tone. It’s old school. I know. Just dial the number. No, you don’t need to press “send.” The phone does it for you. It’s magic. Yes, you can show your friends.” (I think I took an Ativan with a vodka chaser that night.)
A similar exchange took place last night, between myself and my teenage daughter.
Center of Universe Daughter: Mom, we need a Tracfone with text.
Me: We already have one with text. Why?
C-O-U Daughter: Because I need to be able to talk to my friends this summer.
Me: Yeah, well I need Jenny Craig, a butt you can bounce (hell, even play) quarters off of, and a weekend with Matthew McConaughey. You’re not getting a cell phone. You don’t need it.
C-O-U: Well then how am I supposed to talk to them?
Me: Uhhh…. call them. Actually talk on the phone.
C-O-U: What? Call them? (looks at me like I’ve grown a second head) Nobody does that anymore, Mom. It’s old fashioned.
Wow. Why take the time to text, send, then wait for a response, when you can pick up the phone and just say it? An argument shouldn’t take twice as long because I’m texting (and down here, defining) choice insults and cuss words. And what is so urgent that it must be “tweeted” to the entire free world? A new political sex scandal? Snore. Barbara Walters finally got off the fence and stood by her own opinion? Don’t tease me.
Do people genuinely care about my up-to-the-minute status reports on Facebook? Anyone? I don’t even care about my status. That’s why I write, so I can ignore it. Time is valuable, and I’m sure my friends don’t give a rat’s hairy behind about the load of whites I just folded, what my cat just horked up on the clean floor (wherever that is), and how disgusting it is to burp after you take a fish oil capsule (I had to post that one yesterday out of sheer amazement).
Now, I don’t necessarily believe new technology to be bad. The dependence on it I see around me is what concerns me. I like that I can still work out a math problem on paper, even with my pre-Alzheimer’s brain. I’m proud to be able to spell words without inserting numbers into them or using acronyms for everything (Not you, Crank. Still love you, sweetie.). My car doesn’t have to tell me how to get to Wal-Mart and I still know how to write a check. Hell, I can even count back correct change to someone and write in cursive.
I think I’ve just figured out why I’m unemployed and only speaking to children all day.