When there were no cell phones or computers

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When I was a teenager, if I wanted to talk to a friend, I would call her on the telephone and if she didn't answer, I knew it was because she was not at home, not using the computer connected to the telephone line.

I would also walk, yes walk, to my friend's house to see her and talk to her.

When I was young and I wanted the attention of a friend during class, yes, that is something that will never change - there ARE things so earth shattering that they need to conveyed right now, before the bell rings and everyone sees each other in the hall - I passed notes. Sometimes they were real juicy notes and how very embarrassing it was to have a teacher be the interceptor of the note rather than my friend. Several times those notes got read in class by the teacher as a way of punishing me for the action. Needless to say, those teachers didn't think the information was as earth shattering as I did.

Today, students have electronic devices that do all that work for them.

Texting each other is like those notes; the teacher can't grab hold of it in midair as it moves at the rate of light travel. That texting continues throughout the day and (even into the night). Today's teenagers can keep up with several friend's schedules at the same time (talk about a party line?!) with very little interruption without hearing their voices.

I am almost embarrassed to say that I have learned to text, although my kids will say I haven't - at least to the level they are at. They can script a message in no time flat and me, it takes several minutes as I locate the right number and then process in my head how many times I need to push it for the proper letter to come out such as on the number 2 pushing once will give me and A, pushing twice will give me a B and pushing three times will give me a C. It is totally different then typing on my computer which I have mastered pretty well.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the tiny little screen and sometimes I get in too big of hurry to get my message sent to one of my kids. More than once, twice or several times, I have received a text back like, "huh? What is clsxmpo?" Heck if I know but I know it was supposed to be a word so then I have to start all over again and I think I should have just called instead.

Sometimes, it is just fun to send a quick text to let one of my kids know that I am thinking about them and it is comforting when they text me to say they have reached a certain destination. The messages probably reach people quicker than taking the time to dial a number, wait for it to ring and then wait for someone to answer.

Many schools have now banned the use of cell phones during the day because it distracts what the teacher is saying. I'm sure the teenagers wish their teachers had cell phones to use in class so they could receive the information at the level they are used to receiving most of their information.

And oh, my gosh, if there cell phone is dead or worse yet, gets lost, some teenagers have a difficult time surviving without that connection to their friends. I don't make telephone calls like I did in the past anymore, falling into the new technology hole. It is quicker to text or email. I survived without cell phones and computers, though they have no idea how I did. It's fun telling my kids about the "ancient" times I used to live in - you know - when the dinosaur roamed the earth with me.