Text

According to one study, young people, also called teens, are writing more than ever what with email and text messaging.  Well, they are using letters—I mean to say the characters of the alphabet—to communicate, though some might argue this doesn’t constitute writing, since this form of communication doesn’t lend itself to the complete sentence…Necessarily….

So I talked with my students about this text messaging thing, and learned about something called Blackberry Thumb.  This is where you go to a doctor complaining about an ache in your thumb and he says do you have a Blackberry.  Because at one time the Blackberry had its wheel on the side and people were thumbing that wheel so much they were getting carpel tunnel of the thumb.  So it became known as Blackberry thumb even though most cases of it now arise from thumbing text messages.

Apparently this thumbing is going on all the time all over the place.  I asked one student how many text messages she had received while sitting there in my class.  She acted a little defensive saying she had put her phone away upon entering the class; so I said I was just interested and could she tell me anyway.  So she looked at her phone and said she had received 5 text messages while sitting in my class and one email. From her mother.

So when I was sitting with one group of students discussing topics for their research papers (one person was going to write about text messaging), I asked, how come so much text messaging and not phoning.  Well, first text messaging was silent, so you could pretty much do it anywhere without anybody noticing, as for instance in a large lecture class, or surreptitiously under the desk in my class.  But with phoning, well, you have to talk out loud and people could pretty easily detect a person doing that in lecture or class.

Also they just didn’t like they phone, and why was that I wondered?  Because, one person said, with the phone you have to talk to people.  Naturally, I had some trouble following that line of reasoning, but they explained like with the phone it’s immediate.  If somebody talks on the phone, you have to talk back.  But with text messaging you just send the message, and wait to see if the person texts something back.  And then you can text back if you want to or not, or take the time to think a bit about what to text back or not—and you can do it when you feel like it, unlike the phone which is pretty insistent.

Yea, somebody said, you could have a text message conversation going on all day long with somebody, and you could break up with boy friend that way too, one said—a day long text message break up.  Yeah, that’s right, others nodded knowingly.

So for all I know a goodly number of the students in front of me are engaged in multiple text messaging conversations while I am up there trying to command their attention.  Somebody could be breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend right there in my class right in front of me. 

Now that “text” is a verb, I wonder what its past tense is.  “Texted”?

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