Thursday, April 23, 2009

Texting Comes Home

Sometimes, I'm an early adopter when it comes to technology. Other times, I find myself swept up into the technology at the latter end of the adoption spectrum not because I have a compelling desire to use it but rather because I don't seem to have a choice.

For the longest time, we just used our cell phones as cell phones. You know...dial the number, say hi, have a conversation, hang up. Of course, my wife had a basic cell phone that was turned on only when she needed to make a call, never when I needed to reach her but that was fine. When I got a Treo with something resembling a keyboard, I found myself sporadically using it for e-mail while I was out of the office and my laptop wasn't handy but still, it was just a phone. It was apparently capable of texting but really, why wouldn't I just call someone when I wanted to ask them something or tell them something?

Because certain people in my life don't answer their phones, that's why.

Apparently, the function of their cell phones is to serve as a text-based messaging system, 160 characters at a time, not actually as a tool for transmitting one's voice to someone else in distant parts of the globe.

It reached the point that my wife, a wonderful woman who candidly admits that she doesn't need to seek out the most advanced technology , actually said, "you know, I think I need to get a new phone so I can text." What spurred this on? The desire to stay in touch with two of the younger members of the family who seem to be pathologically incapable of anwering a phone but whose thumbs are so well trained that they can apparently text in their sleep.

And so texting came to our home only a few years after everyone else got on the text bandwagon. The scary thing? We can't stop now. If I can't reach my wife by phone, I immediately fire off a text knowing that odds are her cool new phone with the big screen and keyboard will be on and and if she can't get to the call, she'll text me back.

Texts fly back and forth between us and other friends and relatives though definitely not at the same pace as other members of our family. I haven't been able to prove it yet, but I'm pretty sure that I'll catch someone texting someone who is sitting right next to them at some family function.

I'm still not sure why this means of communication has latched on so securely. After all, it's fewer keystrokes to dial someone's number and just ask them a question than it is to carry out a conversation via text. Is it that people don't want to disturb other people with their conversations? Not a chance. Is is that we don't want people to hear what we're saying? Again, I doubt it. Is it the ability to not have to answer when it rings but instead to respond at your convenience? Perhaps. But in the grand scheme of things, I'm stumped.

All I know is that we've turned into a texting family out of necessity, now we can't stop, and I don't know why. At least it's not as out of control as this.


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