Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DANGER! Don't Text and Walk

Walking home in the cold sunshine that's so unusual for Portland, I heard the family "ding" that my phone gives me when a text comes in. I reflexively pulled my phone out of my inside jacket pocket and looked at it while crossing the street. Reading the text, I didn't see the curb coming up on me and went spat onto the pavement, phone skipping across the sidewalk so I could brace myself with my hands. Naturally, there was a car pulling up to the intersection as I did my performance, so I had to scurry getting up so I didn't have a nice Portlander asking if I was okay. As I got up and dusted myself off, the car slowly went on its way, and I kept my gaze down.

As I walked along with my scraped knee, skinned palm and bruised ego, I found I wasn't angry at myself for being stupid enough to read a text as I crossed the street, but at the texter. Or, more accurately, at the ghost in the machine that is the text itself.

There is something inherently rude about a text. A text interrupts whatever you are doing with, "HEY...THIS IS IMPORTANT!" though it usually isn't. I absolutely love texting for making plans, sending a quick update, or communicating with spouse while in a meeting. But, when I get a text that isn't something I need to check on immediately, I just feel...interrupted.

We all know addictive texters. I've had to ban my best friend from texting during dinner at our house. Some people seem to love the continual chime of, "HEY..." but not me. I want it to go away. At least during my walks. It's my thinking time. I don't want to be dinged in the middle of an almost revelation. I want the focus.

From now on, I'm silencing my phone and checking my texts only a couple times a day (which my friends will be surprised that I do it even that often. I'll hear the chime, think I'll go check the text after whatever I'm doing, and then forget about it). But between emails, voicemails, skype, texts, phone, I'm communicated out.

I miss letters. Real letters. On stationary, with handwriting. It's so rare now and I imagine a lot of young adults may have never gotten a real letter in their lives. But when I was fresh out of college and moved across the country, there were still some friends I would write to. I would literally take a whole evening to write a letter - about my thoughts and observations. Oh, guess kind of like the blog, huh?

The best part of this, is the irony. What do you think I'm doing as I'm writing this? Texting back and forth with my husband, Dane, about an owl. My son's kindergarten teacher sent us a link they're watching in school of a mother owl and her hatching eggs. She sleeps most of the time, and the newly hatched chick is god-ugly, but it's riveting to watch this new life, this other creature family and what their day is like.

I watch the mom on her eggs, sleeping so much of the time, and am sympathetic to how tired I was that far along in my pregnancy and how real nesting becomes even though we're different animals. The father came in, dropped off the day's kill as if it were a child support check, and then left again, (probably headed to the bar, Dane texted).

So, whatever, what do I know? It's love / hate. When it works for me, I love it. But when it makes me fall on my face - not so much.

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