Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Text Messaging Part 1


For the duration of the Week of Social Media, I will be writing these posts in chronological order, or in the order that Swamp Thing received them. With that being said, my attention will now be focusing on the next method of digital communication that was introduced into my life in the fall of my freshman year of college; Text Messaging.

Let me take you back to September of 2002. I was a young, irresponsible, girl-fearing lad who was looking for a way of carving my own niche into the world around me, also known as St. George, UT. At the time, I had joined a choir that performed all over the county to various old people. Yes that’s right kids, I do sing. The fact that I can name the starting five of the 2001 NBA Finals and belt out the chorus to Queen’s “Somebody to Love” is an anomaly I know, but that’s neither here nor there.

One Sunday evening, the choir that I was in was performing an intermingling of songs, mixed with sporadic talks about religion. To my left was a fellow bass, whose blogalias shall be Dwight I Am. While we were seated, Dwight I Am pulled out his Nokia 3210 cellular telephone; you know the one I’m talking about, the communication device made famous by the game “Snake”. Pushing a few buttons on it, he smiled and put it back in his pocket. At the back of the auditorium, I looked and saw his girlfriend/soon to be wife, Angela Milano pull out her Nokia 3210 and smile. Pushing a few buttons herself, she put her phone away, and his then vibrated. I looked over at Dwight I Am’s screen and saw the following words.

‘Yeah. I know that this concert is lame.’

Swamp Thing: Confused/Perplexed/WTF look across my face “What the heck is that?”

Dwight I Am: “It’s called a text message.”

Swamp Thing: “A Text Message?”

Dwight I Am: “Yeah, you see, Angela Milano just sent it to me from the back row of the room. So it’s like she and I are talking to each other even though we’re not really talking. Watch, I’ll send her one right back.” Dwight I Am then sent the message ‘What are we doing after?’ to her. In turn Angela Milano pulled out her phone and replied ‘I dunno. Let’s make some cookies or something.’

In a matter of seconds, they had just had a conversation meanwhile off-key alto’s resonated a horrible rendition of a song I never paid attention to meanwhile old folks adjusted their hearing aids to a mute/sleeping decibel level. But how was this possible? How were the two of them able to speak silently from across the room? This was a breakthrough in technology! This was unheard of! This would change my life!

Nine years later I sit at my computer wishing that text messaging had never been invented.

One of the revolving factors in the world these days is the ability to text message someone across the country a message that you would not have been able to do ten years ago. I can have a conversation with a long lost friend via a few quick keystrokes and an electronic signal. I also am losing interpersonal techniques and skills because my main focus is no longer centered on eye contact, facial expressions, or body language. It is now focused on adjusting the auto correct function on my ABC Word Type so that I’m sending the words Crème Pie instead of Crack Pipe. Thank you Auto Correct for the eternal embarrassment. The fact that I get carpal tunnel syndrome instead of cottonmouth during a conversation is another wounding manifestation dealing with text messaging.

This past spring I conducted a study for my Master’s Degree involving the comparison between usage of text messaging and interpersonal skills. (Stay with me here, I know that last sentence screams boring/old man stereotypes, but it is relevant to this post.) The hypothesis stated that the higher one’s usage of text messaging, and amount of text messages that you sent, the lower your interpersonal skills would be, evaluated in a face-to-face interview.

The results? Astounding in the favor of kids obsessed and ruled by text messages being total and complete introverts, afraid of human interaction. The more they sent, the less sociable they were.

Is this sad? You bet it is. Is it a joke that one can have a conversation involving the acronyms BTW, IM GR8, and ROTFLMAO? Absolutely. Later today I’ll even post the acronym test that was given to the subjects, and you can see how fast your interpersonal skills are being damaged depending on your knowledge of “textspeak”.

In retrospect, as I sat in the stands with Dwight I Am, and watched him communicate with his soon-to-be spouse, I was astonished, I was amazed, Pandora’s Box was opening up in my own mind at the dimensions that would be unraveling in the communication pattern just because of a simple screen and block of letters. I never knew the detriment it would be to our society because people focus more on sending out a humorous message rather than pay attention to the intersection that they are driving through. I never knew that the best way of communicating with my sisters up north is by a few quick swipes of my thumbs. I never knew that my life would one day be ruled by the jezebel acronym producer, she who shall be named “Text Messaging”.

But it is.

And with that, I’ll CU L8R.

What do you think?

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