Technology turns tendencies toward texting

As I sat with my son Kyle at a restaurant the other night, I couldn’t help but notice that very few of the humans were interacting with those seated beside or across from them. Or at adjacent tables. Or in the building. Except for their server, of course, but only when they needed refills.

Hmpf.

It’s no new concept, really, the notion that technology is all at once tremendous and awful in terms of its impact on personal communication.

Sure, you can carry on multiple conversations with people all over the city, state, globe and on the dark side of the moon these days, but at the expense of the ones you could be having face to face. No, not via FaceTime; rather, in the flesh.

Sigh.

Clearly today’s generation prefers texting to talking. They really don’t want to talk to each other in person, for some reason. And don’t get me started on texting’s very real assault on grammar. GRRR.

But yes, the ability to stay so readily in touch with loved ones near and far through text is pretty great. And the emojis ranging from smiles to baking cookies to puking to posting your pet’s face (and everything in between) is rather amusing, I must admit.

So texting is both good and bad, it seems.

If I had to draw an analogy, I’d say constant texting is Kyle’s era’s version of how mine talked on the phone with friends for hours at a time — with the extra-long curly phone cord stretching from the kitchen cubby hole (where the rotary lived) into the hall closet. You know, for privacy. A phone of my own in my bedroom? Not bloody likely. Not that it mattered, since my sister and I shared a room our entire kidhood.

That’s right. We had a shared bedroom, even slept in the same bed for 22 years. We were forced to sit beside, talk to and generally interact with each other and our brother every day. Guess what? We turned out pretty OK.

Still, sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if my generation had the technology of today. The notion spurred me to compare and contrast Kyle’s teendom to my long lost own.

First of all, we had like two video games: Pong and Tennis by Atari. Kyle’s has like, 8,497 and the games are barely distinguishable between playing and watching television programming. And make those cable programs because the violence and language in Grand Theft Auto 561 (et al) would not fly on broadcast television, yo.

Speaking of cable; when we finally got it, we were thrilled to have gone from three watchable channels to, like, 50. We thought we’d died and gone to boob tube heaven, especially when MTV launched. #backwhenmtvplayedmusic

Today? Insert chuckle here. Not only do today’s cable and satellite providers offer hundreds and hundreds of channels to peruse, but also options such as remote record / view, video on demand, and the power to pause and rewind live events.

Um, huh? Doesn’t that negate the whole purpose of watching an event in real time?

I guess it’s cool that you can now be your own referee by controlling replays but then you have to time commercial breaks just right to get back on track with the real deal or risk missing LeBron dunking on Steff Curry, yo.

Dude, if you think you’re going to come into my house and touch the pause button on my remote during a Cleveland Cavaliers game, you are doing so at the great risk of your own personal injury — and it will be severe. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, I’m just not sure that instant messaging — and instant EVERYTHING — is always in our own best interests. I mean, yes, I can be accessible to my child 24/7 no matter what. That is the single greatest reason I love technology.

And sure, I have an app that allows me to see where he is (and vice versa, not that he cares) all the time. I know if he’s moving or stationary, where he’s been and headed, what he ate for an afternoon snack and the last time he went potty. Ah, the baby days have come full circle.

Okay, those last two aren’t true, but still…

I think it’s awesome that you can buy a car, a lamp or a box of Ho Hos at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday, and with “free” overnight delivery. Thank you very much, Amazon Prime, you’ve turned my family into a bunch of online addicts. Ugh.

Banking, bill pay, checking calendar events or report card status, heck, even seeking medical advice is now available 24/7 — and that’s outstanding. But replacing human interaction or diluting it to the point of unrecognizability? Well, that’s just plain sad.

I’m all about improved, enhanced and supplemental communication. It’s just that I’d like the majority of it to occur through actual chats, not Snapchat, aka, today’s version of “Mission: Impossible’s” self-destructing messages.

The good Lord put Eve here so Adam wouldn’t have to be alone, so he’d have someone to talk to. In person. They weren’t Skyping across the Garden of Eden, capisce?

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who likes talking. To people. In person. Like, lots. But since she doesn’t have your number, contact her via www.patriciakimerer.com.

COMMENTS