The Ins & Outs of Texting

Real text that I receive from my son more often than not. :)

Real text that I receive from my son more often than not. :)

My relationship with technology has been one of a string of firsts. I first hooked up to the internet via daisy chaining a modem from my old Mac to the phone jack, proceeding to delight in the weird sounds the modem made that told me it was connecting. Another first was finding out that if I didn’t know the exact address of the website I was trying to get to, that I would be lost somewhere floating around in ether-space as I stared at a black screen with a green square flashing in the upper left hand corner.

Things have come along way since then. I constantly marvel at how connected we all are, never more so than the times I text my son. It’s instantaneous parent child communication. Gone are the days where parents had to rummage through a phone book to find the telephone number of the house where their children were supposed to be. No more are the days when a daughter or son had to call home and hunt for a payphone. In the world of today, everyone who has a cell phone is totally available 24×7. Theoretically anyway.

Even though I communicate very frequently with my son via text, there are some oddities about texting that I’ve become aware of as time as gone by.

Ongoing Conversation

One of the big differences between the way my son texts and how I text is how we view texting. I view each group of texts in a certain time frame as individual conversations. My son views all the texts as a whole continuous conversation that we just put on a hold for a few hours until we pick it up again.

Until I figured this out there was ample opportunity for miscommunication. These miscommunications were very often accompanied by statements from him pointing out that I needed to read the texts. This confused me because I had read the texts, at least the ones in a particular conversation. It wasn’t until he actually told me that we were having a continuous conversation that I finally understood how he, and his generation, look at texting.

Minimalist Communication

After a certain nebulous point in time somewhere in the 1990s any form of digital communication began to lose its shape as written language, slouching towards something that’s an odd combination of sentence fragments and partial thoughts.

I still write my texts in full sentences complete with capitalization’s and periods, while my son, being the minimalist that he is, tries to communicate with as few words as possible. Most days this consists of the word “okay” showing up on my phone in response to, well, just about anything. I can ask him about a test, and “okay” shows up on my phone. Ditto when I ask him about a movie he went to, how the weather is at his track meet, or how the track meet went. You get the picture. This happened so many times that I  began to have the sneaking suspicion that he was just hitting send on the same text in response to me. I asked him if this was the case. He replied with a sheepish smile, “Sometimes.”

Actual Conversation Is Still The Best

Although I text my son a great many times during a week, and yes, he does respond to me, there are always times when a good old fashioned conversation is the best way to find out what’s really going on. There’s just something lost in the text translation. You can’t see how your child reacts. How excited he is when he runs a personal best, or how disappointed he is when he doesn’t get the score he was hoping for.

That being said, texting has brought a lot to the communication table, and if you’re like me you want to take any opportunity that presents itself to communicate with your son or daughter if only to let them know you’re there for them 24×7.

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