Rite of Passage: The trouble with texting
When it comes to texting, there are some things I don’t understand. In our office, for example, you can see the person across the hall as you do your work. But instead of getting up and walking three feet for an answer to a question, our staff sends text messages back and forth. In the future, I wonder what archaeologists will dig up about this generation. They’ll find an old cell phone loaded with text messages and think they’ve discovered some ancient form of hieroglyphics.
I was flying home a couple of weeks ago and sat next to a teenage girl. Throughout the flight, she remained silent. But as soon as the plane landed, she whipped out her phone and downloaded messages at lightning speed. Each incoming message made a little “ping” sound. I sat there for what seemed like forever listening to “ping,” “ping,” “ping,” “ping.”
As each message came in, my young friend hit “Reply” and typed page after page using only her thumb. I’d never seen anything like it. Her thumb moved so fast it was only a blur. By the time we pulled into the terminal she’d already answered every message she received.
Yes, I do a little text messaging. Since I don’t enjoy it, I always type as little as possible. The text messages I receive often come in text language, a shorthand used for messaging. Many of these abbreviations have become common knowledge like BFF, “Best Friend Forever” or FYI, “For Your Information.”
Did you know text language has also been adopted by business people? AFK stand for “Away From Keyboard” and BIL stands for “Boss Is Listening.” Soon, we will reach the point where a young man will propose to his future wife by texting, “WILUMryME?”
As the Baby Boomers move into retirement age, a new phenomenon is emerging. These budding senior adults have picked up on the new technology and developed some of their own text messaging shorthand. A young person’s texted “LOL” means “Laughing Out Loud.” But for a senior adult, the same letters mean “Living on Lipitor” and FYI means “Found Your Insulin.” A young person would use “M8” to mean “mate,” but for a senior adult, it stands for “Metamucil at Eight.” “GTG,” a popular way to end a text message, means “Got To Go.” For a senior adult, however, it means “Going to Gastrologist.” “TTYL” normally means “Talk To You Later,” but to a senior adult, it translates as “Talk To You Louder.” In text language, A3 means “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere” but for a senior adult, it signifies “Arthritis, Angina, Ailments.” Of course, “BTW” stands for “By The Way,” but now it can also mean “Bring The Wheelchair.”
If you want to feel old, tell a group of students about your life as a child. The other day, I was explaining to some young friends that when I grew up, cars didn’t have seatbelts, power steering or air-conditioning. Our first vehicle with automatic shift was a big deal. For the early part of my life, we didn’t have television. When we did get one, it was black and white. We received only three channels, and those broadcast only a portion of the day. Instead of texting, we were talking. The longer I spoke to these students about the things I’ve seen, the more amazed they were that I survived such primitive conditions.
It saddens me that in this day of text messaging, e-mail and Facebook, we have forgotten the art of touch. Being touched is one of our most basic needs. I have worked with a number or children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD. For the first three years of life, these children (many raised in an orphanage) were rarely touched or held. Later, they often exhibit almost a complete lack of ability to show genuine affection. They typically fail to develop a conscience and have trouble learning to trust. Because of these issues, they don’t allow anyone else to help control their lives. Today, it seems as though not only orphanages, but also technology is producing children with RAD.
I am glad God sent his only begotten Son to touch our lives. When He wanted to free us from eternal condemnation and separation, He didn’t send a text message, an e-mail or a Facebook friend request. Instead, He sent His only Son as a tiny baby. Because of this priceless gift, we can sing that old gospel song, “He touched Me.” “He touched me, Oh, He touched me, And oh, the joy that floods my soul! Something happened, and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.”
And that, my friend, is more than FYI. It’s AMOF (A Matter Of Fact.)
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail [email protected], phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)