Posted by: laughs4dads | August 30, 2010

Thumbelinas

According to a nationwide study by Nielsen (the company single-handedly responsible for the demise of every TV show you’ve ever liked), the average 16-year-old girl in America sends or receives 3,930 text messages every month. That’s over 130 texts a day. Assuming they get six hours of sleep a day, that’s more than seven texts every hour.

And it’s even more than that, because they also spend an average of almost a half hour a day talking on their cell phones, which reduces their available text time. I think. Can you text and talk at the same time? I find it difficult to text and breathe at the same time. There’s only one person in the world who sends me text messages, every other week to see if I’m available for our biweekly poker game. It takes me about 10 minutes to type “yes” and hit send.

But, of course, for most people these days (the ones whose thumbs have become the size of cucumbers), texting is the preferred mode of communication, because it can be done silently (if you ignore all the clicking) and it allows you to talk about people who are in the room with you. I have even seen my daughter text to someone who was in the room with her. Probably some snide comment about me.

But let’s get back to that staggering statistic. All those teenaged girls, their thumbs flying across those tiny keyboards (or fake keyboards if they have iPhones), when they could be doing more productive things like…oh, who am I kidding? Teenaged girls haven’t done anything productive since 1952, when American Bandstand debuted. At least that’s what our media would have us believe. Because for generations, television and movies (and even Broadway shows–from Bye Bye Birdie to Grease to Hairspray) have depicted teenaged girls essentially doing nothing but talking on phones and dancing and being mean to each other. If it wasn’t for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an alien watching decades of media transmissions from Earth would assume that there was a subspecies of humans with phone-shaped appendages attached to their ears, the average IQ of a watermelon, and a severe physical tic that drives them to suddenly move spasmodically whenever music begins playing.

So with those media images as models, it’s no wonder that teenaged girls think they’re supposed to spend much of their waking hours using up their minutes.

Of course, many of those 3,930 text messages a month are not isolated communiques from the field, but rather, the back and forth of a conversation: statements and responses, questions and answers, many of which are just one or two words, or even one or two letters. But here’s what I don’t understand: How is that a more efficient way to communicate than to simply call the other person and talk? Even when your thumbs have the speed and agility of, um, someone with very fast and agile thumbs, you can’t possibly type and read the 10-20 exchanges that might make up a conversation faster than you could say them.

Yes, I know–there are times when you can’t talk, like when the obnoxious person at the movies has to urgently tell someone something via loudly clicking text message. But it is obvious to me that teenagers prefer texting over talking, which makes me think “What’s the matter with kids these days,” which is a lyric from Bye Bye Birdie, and so we’ve come full circle.

And the really sad thing is it’s not just 13 year old girls. I was in a business meeting recently where a presenter asked a question and told the attendees to text their answers to 57649 or some such number, which I don’t know how to do, and, anyway, why the hell can’t we just raise our hands? I mean–we’re all in the friggin’ room together!

So, in conclusion, if you’re a 16-year-old girl, please let me know why the heck you like texting so much. Text your answers to 1-800-I-R-E-A-L-L-Y-D-O-N-T-C-A-R-E.

Then go do something productive. Go kill a vampire. There are certainly enough of them around these days.

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