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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Originally published May 29, 2009

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

If human beings were meant to text or twitter, our thumbs would be much smaller. Using only thumbs, while trying to type on a cell phone, is just one of the many challenges with texting.

I only started texting recently and, as a beginner, I’m struggling. While many people now have advanced to “tweeting”, I’m still fumbling with simple texting. Maybe the biggest challenge for me is the texting language. When I get a message from my daughter, I have to read it multiple times before I grasp the meaning, as a result of the abbreviations common in texting.

“gr8 day, 1 some, g2g” texted my daughter recently from a volleyball tournament.

To translate, she was saying, “It was a great day. We won some games. I’ve got to go.”

It reminds me of those tricky personalized license plates on cars that completely distract me while I’m driving. Instead of focusing on what’s important when I’m behind the wheel, such as the teenage driver speeding ahead to cut me off, I’m lost in thought trying to decipher the personalized plate on a car I passed a mile back.

Basically, learning texting language is like learning any foreign language. But, if I’m going to take the time to learn another language, I’d really prefer something other than texting. At least with other languages, such as Spanish, there’s the payoff of the pleasing, melodic sound that comes when you’re finally able to speak it. There’s absolutely nothing melodic in texting language. Instead of “como esta” rolling off your tongue, it’s “hru” (how are you).

There’s also a social rhythm to texting that I haven’t mastered. I’ve found that people expect a certain amount of back and forth in texting that reminds me of warming up on the tennis court with the other guy before playing the game. But, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve come to play and, if it’s done right, I serve all aces and the game is over.

An entirely different challenge is presented by my new cell phone with its texting keyboard. My cell phone moves in two different directions: up and down as a phone or side to side as a texting keyboard. I’ve decided it would be ideal for a person who’s a great multitasker or an Olympic bi-athlete. I’m neither, and I regularly get tripped up moving between making phone calls and texting, like a bi-athlete who falls over her skis while reaching for her rifle.

It may surprise some people to know that many of my peers don’t text or twitter because they view it as a pastime of younger generations with no importance or usefulness to them. To me, it’s very important, because I want to be able to speak a language that my children speak. I see it as another way to communicate with my kids which is sometimes the biggest challenge of all.

So, when my daughter is far away from home and she texts “g2g”, I can reply “bbs”. Be back soon.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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