Recently I had a text conversation with a friend that lasted over an hour.
It was okay; not ideal. Typing the words, one finger at a time on the tiny screen – switching screens to use : or ; or “ and ” – it took more time than it should have. Sometimes our thoughts collided and the text bubbles got out of order and one of us got off topic before the other was ready to move on. Several times one of us had to ask the other: what did you mean by that? We’d back up and reword again.
I wanted to use the word “preposterous,” but settled for “cray.”
I missed the olden days when I could talk on the phone with a friend and punctuation was unspoken, and words flowed freely from my lips, and interruptions were effortless and one of the quirks that I tolerated in a good friend during an easy yet meaningful discussion.
People don’t want to talk on the phone anymore. More and more people claim to hating and avoiding it, despite likely doing it for hours when they were younger. They cite convenience and ease when they eschew talking in favor of texting.
In theory, I get it. The conversation I had with my friend could have easily been done while I was perusing the clearance end caps at Target, sneaking my way from the toy aisle to that one area in housewares that everybody forgets about and where I find most of my treasures.
Or if I was more adept at texting and could do the talk with one hand down a toilet in my house, scrubbing away my family’s dirt while she unloaded hers onto the screen.
Instead, I sat at my kitchen table in silence and punched out my words in response to hers, enjoying the quiet but wishing we could hear each other laugh instead of sharing LOLZ and hearing the sarcasm without having to type You’re kidding, right? Dang. Cray.
I miss my mom. When I was a new adult she would call and I would sit on the secondhand patio furniture that I kept in my apartment, painting my toenails and telling her that I made her lasagna for dinner and expressing my shock that it was such a large amount and I would likely be eating it for the next two weeks. I learned how to cook over the phone, that windows needed to be washed periodically, and that a civilized person really could not do without a good tailor.
Now my mother rarely calls anymore; she’s able to run more errands and get more work done due to the convenience afforded by technology. I can almost hear the world rush by her car window when she calls, my name on in a list of many that she checks off when she drives to the collect the dry cleaning.
When my husband and I met, he had just landed a new job, and they set him up in a hotel for a couple of months. Ours was a long distance romance, and the hotel phone bill soared as we chatted late into the night about our hopes and dreams and those times we did those things we regret. His company was gracious enough to know that our romance was fated from the beginning and forgave us the bill.
Now he texts from his parked car at the end of a long day: Just lvng b home @ 630.
You may chalk this loss up to the perils of familiarity in a marriage, but I maintain that convenience is to blame.
We’re out of practice. No more do friends call to chat on a slow afternoon. It’s all business, and more abbreviated than ever. Meet for lunch @ noon? Sat ok for GNO? Yah thx.
We’re not able to totally hide our poor spelling ability with texting, and we expose our rudeness when in the presence of others, every lull in conversation permission to pick up our screens to see who else is talking. Worse, we endanger others when our attention is diverted by the convenience of instant conversation when on the road.
Most people argue that convenience is a good thing. We’re doing more because we can; we’re not tied up by a phone cord, and conversations can’t drag on via text because it’s too cumbersome. We are more efficient than ever, getting our point across or making an order with a tap or two. We can easily beg off with a “gtg” because we are at checkout, or entering the movie theater, the doctor’s office, or class. We don’t have to exercise real grace, manners, or politeness anymore; abbreviations are substituted for real emotions or reactions. OMG!!! and xoxo, srsly.
Nobody seems to mind.
For now, I’ll be riding the waves of progress most of the time, and exhausting my efforts by swimming against the tide when I feel indignant. When I can, I’ll call up my mom and remind her that she still needs to give me her recipe for cheesy potatoes.
And she’ll tell me she’s shopping with a friend, and that I should just Google it.