Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do You Still Know How to Write?

How often have you seen a teen without a cell phone? And how many of them are texting messages to their friends. The cell phone has definitely become a way of life. Besides the normal questions of etiquette, distraction and just plain rudeness there are two other questions to explore.

The first has to do with communication styles. I don’t understand why someone would send a text message when they can just as easily make a call from the same equipment. Don’t people like to talk to each other any more? Have we totally lost the need to reach out and connect with other people? One young man I recently saw on TV, who was getting ready to go to Marine boot camp, was perplexed about not being able to use his phone with him. He readily admitted to 17,000 text messages per month; yes 17 THOUSAND. He must never talk to anyone or do anything besides texting.

The second challenge this young man will have to face is also a problem for a lot of people. Does he know how to write a letter? One of quandaries of text messages is the shortened language form. For ease of use most words have been shortened, or just represented with letters. Will this young man, or anyone else for that matter, be able to translate the abbreviations back into proper English. How will they communicate with the folks back home or any offices or services where they need help? I doubt that the Marines will accept text messages for inquiries. The chance of him having a cell phone available on duty is also very slim. How does he expect to keep in touch with his world?

I do appreciate that cell phones, with their texting technologies are a great tool. However, there is a time and place. The technology is being abused. They have even evolved into a Twitter world where 140 characters can convey your message. It is a quick and easy way to spread the word of any event in real time. But to just use the technology on a whim, or as a toy, defeats its purpose and dilutes our communication skills to a debilitating degree.