RITE OF PASSAGE: Txt MsgN
My name is Walker Moore, and I don’t know how to text message. There, I finally said it. A man who has spent most of his life working with young people can’t text message. One of our students tells me that if I want to communicate with this generation, I need to catch up . . . and fast.
This sounds fine except that I have only recently learned to use my computer with its full-size keyboard. Now they want me to stare at my cell phone’s miniature keypad and try to type something coherent? I don’t know whether you have ever watched students as they text message, but it is a sight to behold. Using one hand, they hold their tiny little phones. Next, using only one thumb, they pound the tiny little keys until they have tiny little messages on those tiny little screens. Of course, they complete all this in mere seconds. This generation’s biggest muscles must be in the thumbs they use for text messaging.
When you text message, not only do you have to learn to make letters mysteriously appear on your cell phone screen, but you also have to learn a whole new language called “text lingo.” For example, you might get a text message that reads, “Gudam wycm 2moro wif ur adr? Hand!” Translated into normal English, this means, “Good morning. Will you call me tomorrow with your address? Have a nice day!” After spending years learning to spell, the last thing this dyslexic writer wants to hear is that I must learn . . . again.
Text lingo, like other modern forms of teen communication, includes special abbreviations. “BRB” means “Be right back.” “LOL” is “laughing out loud” and “gr8” is “great.” Some of you parents need to know that “PAL” is “parents are listening” and “PAW” is “parents are watching.” In fact, this generation has created its own dictionary so it can text message more rapidly than ever. IDGI . . . excuse me, I was practicing my text messaging: “I don’t get it.”
Not long ago, I talked to a student who told me that he got as many as 500 text messages a day. Yet, when I call him, he will not answer his phone. It seems that the cell phone has become a text messaging machine instead of an instrument for talking and listening.
Text-impaired people like me can find help in the form of a Web site (www.transl8it.com) that allows you to type your message in plain English. It translates your words into “text lingo” with the click of a mouse. Just for fun, I typed in John 3:16 and it came out: “4 God so luvd d wrld dat he gave Hs 1 & onlE Son, dat whoever BlEvz n him shaL not perish bt hav eternal Lyf.”
Next, I tried Genesis 1:1, 2: “n d beginN God creatD d heavNz & d erth. nw d erth wz formless & drknez wz Ovr d surfAc of d dEp, & d Spirit of God wz hovRN Ovr d H2Oz. & God sed, ‘lt ther b lite,’ & ther wz lite.'”
Why has text messaging become so popular? I believe today’s young people use it to validate their existence. A part of the ancient path (Jeremiah 6:16) that God has instilled deep within us says we must belong to something bigger than ourselves. We need to know that we have significance in the lives of others, that we matter. God planned the family-a place we discover our self-worth and validate our existence-to meet this deep need. That has changed, however, with the shift in our culture. Especially since the 1960s, we have been out searching for ourselves. Each generation has sought its own way. My generation tried sit-ins, love-ins, Woodstock and drugs. This generation is trying to validate its existence through technological means, including MySpace, Facebook (yes, you can be my friend on Facebook) and text messaging.
Mom, Dad and grandparents: this generation is crying out for someone to speak into them their worth. They want to hear not merely that they are special, but that they are special “because . . . ” (you fill in the blank). Look your children or grandchildren in the eye, use their names and then validate them by saying, “I love you because . . . ” or, “I appreciate you because . . .” The words that come after “because” validate their existence and give them self-worth.
If you find yourself unable to validate your child or grandchild in this way, maybe you can start by . . . text messaging. I aPrec8 U Baptist msgR readers cuz I dun hav 2 txt msg my wrds 2 U.