Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Text Messaging: Connection or Illusion?

I don't get it: text messaging, I mean.

I have officially reached old fogey status with my complete lack of comprehension for this convenience. Using my thumbs to communicate with people in hieroglyphic abbreviations is not so much not-doable as not appealing.

It may be useful in some situations, but I do not fall into any of the categories that suggest themselves to me. For example:

  • A working mother who cannot take time out to talk on the telephone every two minutes with children but who wants to keep tabs on them and respond to their needs.
  • An emergency medical technician taking a class but who must remain on call and similar work situations.
  • A husband at work waiting for a call to take his pregnant wife to the hospital and other medical situations.
  • A stock day trader (if there are any left in this sorry market) who must see the prices scrolling past moment by moment.
  • Barack Obama, isolated behind intense security and constantly on the move in a campaign bus, keeping in touch with family and friends.

I grew up in an era when Be Here Now was the philosophy. My goal is to be deeply rooted in the moment. I want my body-mind-soul to be aware of their space-time connections. I do not want to splice off parts of my consciousness to text message. I'm not even all that fond of the telephone.

Moreover, I suspect that the messages I am most likely to receive are those that I least want. These would include late-night questions from students when I am too tired to care about their success in my class and scary announcements about elder relatives’ well-being that would jolt me awake in terror.

Text messaging has advantages: it less expensive than cell phone time, less obtrusive in many situations, can be used to answer a question quickly without the small talk or distractions of a conversation, and may consume less time than talking. My millennial students say that text messaging makes them feel connected to the world at all times. My philosophy is that connectedness starts within, not without. Test messaging is an illusion of connectedness, not the real thing.


Dogwalkmusings said...

Rather like blogging!

naomi dagen bloom said...

Great meditation on text messaging! Why do I think there's something inherently evil--or at least anti-civilization--about reverting to two fingers to relate to other humans.

TropiGal said...

Thank you for your interesting comments, Dogwalk and Naomi. Perhaps I would like texting if I tried it.

Lydia said...

Never done it, probably never will! It just has no appeal for me, and I think that's in part because I took shorthand in high school. Worse yet, I actually used that skill in my first few jobs! I still mentally exchange words I see for shorthand at times. The last thing I need is yet another language shortcut to take up more space in my brain!