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The Silence of The Thumbs

In Texting on October 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

TextingMy wife and I were at the theater the other night and saw an acquaintance of ours. We walked over to say hi and he introduced us to the woman he was with. She looked up from her Blackberry and found the admirable strength to pull her thumbs off the keypad, shake our hands and smile. Then she immediately returned to her furious thumbing which she continued to do without ever looking up again (or speaking a word) for the rest of our five-or-so-minute-long visit.

Then, just this weekend, I was out with some work colleagues when someone at the table clearly got bored talking with us and cozied up with her phone–and her thumbs–at the end of the table instead.

I know texting in public is getting more and more common, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Wasn’t our encounter in the theater pretty much equal to that woman saying: “Nice to meet you, but I’m really not interested. I’d rather use my thumbs to talk to the person at the other end of my Blackberry than use my mouth to engage with you. Buh bye.”

And wasn’t my colleague’s behavior tantamount to whipping out a pad and pen in the middle of a very social setting and saying: “Um, excuse me everyone but you’re not fascinating enough to warrant my attention. Instead, I’m going to use this time to write a note–using bad grammar and strange abbreviations–to my mother (or boyfriend, or BFF!).”

What I want to know is–when did the people who AREN’T in the room become more important than the people who ARE there? Why is it acceptable to interrupt conversations with flesh-and-blood human beings to type a note to someone in the ether? You wouldn’t really tolerate it if I started to talk to my imaginary friend in the middle of our next conversation, so why do I have to put up with you doing a version of the same? What the hell is more important than what’s happening right here, right now?!!!!

And here are two more questions for you: Shouldn’t we just rename txting to FU-ing? Because, in the end, isn’t it worse these days to be given the thumbs than the middle finger?

Sadly, I don’t have the answers to any of these questions (I’m a writer, not a Magic 8 Ball). But speaking of Magic 8 Balls, I am thinking of marketing a new invention. It’s a series of post-it notes made in the exact sizes of the screens on today’s most popular smart phones. Just write your thought on the note (“I am bleeding and need medical attention,” for example), slap it on someone’s screen and you’re in business. You’re sure to distract your texter from the distraction of texting and, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even get a good old-fashioned flipping off instead the silence of the thumbs.

  1. I’m with you — busting out your smartphone during a social event is totally rude. However, those things are so damn addictive. (They don’t call them CrackBerries for nothing.) Really, it takes some serious willpower for me NOT to look at my phone every half hour or so. What if someone e-mailed or texted me, or posted something funny on Facebook? I NEED TO KNOW. I don’t necessarily need to respond, but I want to know what’s happening. And I really don’t know how to stop this. It’s even worse, of course, with the younger generations. My guess: eventually it’s going to become socially acceptable to connect with absent friends while you’re physically with others. Sad, but true.

  2. It’s so true. More and more people are replacing normal interactions with the almighty artifice of handheld technology. How can any one person hope to compete with the invisible enormity of the internet? Why regale one person with the foibles and fortunes of your day when you have a direct artery to the eyes and minds of five hundred Facebooky Twitter-mates? I would go on, but my wife is giving me that look. She just introduced me to her coworkers and if you’ll excuse me, I think I’d better involve myself in whatever it is they’re droning on about.

    Lol roflmao. Jk. OMG imagin if I wuz serius.? My bff Mike would H8 if I became some rude jrk who lost the abilitee to comunicat good.

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