Is Texting the New Body Language?
They say a high percentage of communication is body language. So, how does texting include that? By taking into account the speed at which the thumbs are choosing letters?
I’m not a practicing M.D., nor do I play one on TV, so I can’t properly judge that issue, but I am a practicing M.O.M. (Mother of Many), so I can tell you what they do cause—aggravation, car accidents, and frustration. And that’s just for starters.
I wonder how many kids received a cell phone for Christmas. What I really wonder is how they can communicate on them without a “new texting code” book. In the 70s we kept a CB cheat sheet in the car, so we could put the pedal to the metal when the flagon with the dragon saw the vessel with the pestle—no, wait a minute, that’s from an old Danny Kaye movie, I think. Anyway, we didn’t speak in initials. We at least used words.
It’s a trade-off with technology. Speed and convenience replace the human element. Texting eliminates facial expression and voice inflection. It also has replaced a lot of the English language. Not only is there slang, there are initials that stand for complete paragraphs. Those initials have even leapt off the cell phone device and into the kids’ everyday language. “OMG” comes to mind. Can you imagine Shakespeare in text today? Oh My Gosh. With “2B?NT2B?” Hamlet could decide his fate in half a page.
I’m not going to be texting the Bard in 2010, but I have figured out a few abbreviations and developed my own list of them, logical and easily deciphered. For instance, “B4” sounds like “before,” so that makes sense, the same with “4ward,” “2CU,” and “R-U?”
I had a teacher in middle school in New Jersey who spoke faster than anyone I had ever heard. He was from New York, and those people talk funny anyway. I had to come up with my own shorthand to make sure note taking was complete. I only used thumbs for holding my pencil.
Now, the texting letters could stand for anything, and they don’t even sound like the words they convey. For instance, “ttyl,” “jk,” “nm,” and “brb.” No, I don’t know what they mean either. Aliens from Mars may understand them, or teenagers. They have similar brains I think.
They say a high percentage of communication is body language. So, how does texting include that? By taking into account the speed at which the thumbs are choosing letters? My thumbs seem better at pushing in a thumbtack or hitting the space bar on the typewriter. Used to be, they were only for communicating the need for a ride along the state highway system. Drivers were honored if the person “thumbing it” was in uniform.
I heard a small child once exclaim, “You have no games on your cell phone,” as if this were a major character flaw. I use my phone for talking. No poker while driving. Too much of a gamble.
The blueberry or raspberry, I think that’s what it’s called, has buttons so small I wouldn’t be able to see them anyway. The tool it comes with looks like one of my grandmother’s crochet needles. Technology often doesn’t work with the older eyes. I suppose the old saying, “I’m all thumbs,” is now a compliment. Our generation’s third grade teachers may be called up soon to help us learn the basics.
There’s a flip side to the flip language of cyberspace. Where is the art and courtesy of letter and thank-you-note writing? People use the phone to text, yet they don’t even use it to say thank you with the human voice. I still use my phone for conversations involving the voice. There’s no facial expression, but there’s human warmth, laughter, and compassion at the other end, with laughter being my favorite.
Have you heard the one about …? No, I could find a kid to text it to you.
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John Frair, a former United Press photographer, spent a career recording the great and near great, the tragic and inspirational events of the past on film. In June, Frair will display an exhibition of his travel photography at the Creative Art Center in Bonham. The photographs chronicle trips to London and the West County of England, Belgium, Spain, France and Paris.
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