IíLL TEXT YOU
IN THE MORNING
We had a nice family dinner the other night in a fairly
decent restaurant. Included in the gathering were three teenage boys, all
proud owners of the latest cell phone models.
I hate them.
Not the teenagers. Theyíre a pain in the butt sometimes,
but generally I have a fondness for them. Itís the cell phones I canít
I donít know what we were talking about at the table, but I
could tell the teenagers were a bit distracted. I quickly realized what
was going on, and I thought about my parents and their admonitions for us
to sit up straight, or get our elbows off the table. Times certainly have
"STOP TEXTING AT THE TABLE!" I cried, rattling them
just a bit. "Itís rude."
The 17 year old looked up briefly, and then returned his gaze
to his lap, where he was furiously finishing a quick text reply to his
girlfriend. "Hold on, Iím almost done."
Ridiculous. All three of them are addicted to texting. Thereís
hardly a need to talk on the phone anymore. They just text, and then text
I tried it a few times. My fat little fingers had quite the
adventure trying to hit the right letters on my cell phone in order to
compose a sentence. Thatís because the phone was designed to actually
call people with numbers, not letters.
But I guess after you do it 30,000 times or so, like these
teenagers do, you get pretty good at it. And the newer phones all have
little keyboards, where my fat little fingers can make mistakes a bit
I will admit these kids are amazing with their proficiency.
My 17 year old is very proud of his ability to compose a text with his
phone in his pocket, which has been a great asset while in class.
We used to call that pocket pool, but we couldnít use the
excuse that we were sending a text message.
My first indication that we were facing a texting epidemic
came with my cell phone bill a few months ago. It was about 43 pages, and
each text was detailed. And it was about $50 higher than it should have
"Have you gone crazy?" I asked my 17 year old as I
perused the bill. "You get 800 free text messages a month, and you
used 1800. At five cents for every extra text message, thatís $50 in
"Sheís obsessed," he replied, referring to his
girlfriend. "She texts me all day long."
"Have you considered actually dialing her number and
talking to her?"
By the look on his face, it was clear that he had not. It was
far easier to reply with his nimble little fingers. Averaging 60 text
messages a day had made him a master of the craft.
"I already changed my bill to unlimited texting,"
he said. "Itís only an extra $10 per month. Iíve got it
"But just in case," he added, "why donít you
take my phone away for a few days."
Obviously, he needed a break, and I was happy to comply. But
by the second day, he was going through some sort of withdrawal, and he
began begging me to return his phone.
"Have you thought about using the house phone?" I
asked. "You could call anyone in the world, right now."
It wasnít a consideration. He looked at me like I was a
Neanderthal. He couldnít text, he couldnít e-mail, he couldnít even
check the time anymore from a house phone. Good God, house phones couldnít
even take pictures. What a waste.
He started snorting and pawing me, searching for where he
thought I might have hidden his phone. Now who was the Neanderthal?
His 18-year-old brother walked by at that moment. "Check this
out," he said, showing us the new phone he had just bought. He showed
us a text message and then pushed a button, and a female voice read the
text message out loud.
"Thatís lovely," I said. "Now you boys wonít
even have to remember how to read."
"Yeah, but weíve still got to write the damn
things," the 18 year old replied. "I canít wait for the phones
to take my voice and put it into text, like the computers are starting to
I looked at the 17 year old. He wasnít listening. He didnít
care about the new technology. He just wanted his old phone back, where he
could get back to texting 60 times a day.
I knew how he felt. Sort of.