Broken-down Poetry: If the fear of carpal tunnel is not enough...


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

If the fear of carpal tunnel is not enough...

"We suffer from the illusion... that we can expand our personal bandwidth, connecting to more and more. Instead, we end up overstimulated, overwhelmed and... unfulfilled. Continuous partial attention inevitably feels like a lack of full attention." [Ellen Goodman, "In Praise of a Snail's Pace"]

On my Verizon plan, I only have 250 in-coming and out-going text messages a month. For those of you with unlimited text messaging, it takes about a day to get through that many texts. This month, however, I have exceeded that limit by over 100 text messages because of a domestic threat I like to call Telephonaphobia.

I have received over 200 in-coming texts, the majority being random "I-Just-Thought-You-Should-Know" text messages. Or better yet, "Rhetorical Question" texts or "I-Could-Easily-Ask-The-Person-Next-To-Me-The-Same-Question-But-I-Chose-To-Waste-Your-Money-Instead" texts. Both are kind of annoying.

Instead of people dialing my phone number and talking to me, they send text messages.

Now, before I start to sound to archaic (like my mom who barely knows how to read texts), I need to get to the root of my issue with texting, beyond my monthly bill.


That sounds extreme, sure, but it is kind of true when it comes to texting. Person A is telling Person B about a family issue, Person B is texting simultaneously. Person A get snubbed by whomever Person B is text messaging. Tah-Dah.

It's more of a spiral effect, sure, and I don't think it's much of a problem if this is solely a teenage issue that will dissipate by adulthood. Kids (myself included) tend to be a little ADD with conversations anyway. If everyone else is text messaging anyway, it's not a huge deal. Until you're the one NOT text messaging. (Like me!)

Say Person B (the one who texted through that important conversation) grew up, got out of college, and started her life as, say, a secretary at a law firm. Not a huge deal, not like a celebrity or anything, but a nice, well-paying job. During her lunch break (and, admittedly during her work shift) she text messages her friends--all 15 of them. With text messaging, this is possible. Friend 1 is over in Seattle, Washington (married, two kids), Friend 2 and 3 have an apartment together in Vancouver, Friend 4 is on vacation in Florida, Friend 5 works down the street at a bakery... you get the picture.

Person B's text messaging skills helped her stay in touch with her 15 friends who live all across the country (and Canada!). But how deep are those relationships? How serious can a conversation get when it has a 160-character limit?

I wonder what it would be like if Jesus had unlimited text messaging. Picture him at a campfire, Peter heating fish over the flames, John next to Jesus' side ready to ask him an important question and--click,click,click.

"Jesus? Who is Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"

"Uhhhmmm." click,click,click. "Hold on, John." [SEND!]


"Oh, yeah, Greatest in the Kingdom, is that what you asked?"

"Yes, Jesus, who is the Greatest?"

[Jesus' cellphone chimes "Amazing Grace"]

"Uhmm.." [reads text, laughs] "The Greatest in the Kingdom is..."

Okay, maybe Jesus had/has better multitasking skills, but you get the picture. Jesus' relationships were authentic because he took time to really listen. Think of his conversation with Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus didn't spend just a few seconds with the guy, half-listening to him and also worrying about whoever was text-messaging him. He took time with the guy. He sat down and explained stuff to him. Think of how many times he sat down with is disciples to explain parables to them. This wasn't just a side-thought for him, it took genuine concern.

So I guess what I am asking from you, dear audience, is to not chuck your cellphones out the window (that would be unnecessary), but to be wary of when you text (not when someone is trying to have a serious conversation with you) or how it is affecting the depth of your relationship with the person you are texting.

Human contact is pretty good too. Spending some time with that person you're texting, one-on-one, will do wonders for you relationship, more so than a few (hundred) text messages.

1 comment:

Adam Garland said...

Great post.

I don't text at all. Well, I would text to Twitter if my screens worked but they don't so oh well.

I get what you're saying though. Authentic relationships are so hard to find it's crazy.