Chris Johnson: Unlimited texting can be an unmitigated disaster

December 15, 2013 

Katie Anderson, a writer of young adult books -- and, no, I don't read young adult books; they're above my reading level -- offered a recent commentary on Huffington Post about how texting is killing teen romance.

And, no, I don't usually visit the Huffington Post, either, because they've made their riches by linking to the efforts of hard-working journalists. Yet, I saw the link on a social media site, and it was interesting.

Her premise is that there is no space in relationships anymore, particularly teen relationships, because the ever-present smart phone means that as soon as the teens are apart they start texting each other. There's no space between the notes that makes the music, so to speak.

There's no time to wonder if the other person feels the same way after what you think is a perfect first date because they either start texting you with "Had a great time tonight!" or with "My pet squirrel just died and I'm going to have to spend to next 12 months in mourning, so I guess we won't be able to have a second date. Sorry."

Even those who've been dating for weeks or months never have a break from each other. When they're apart, there's that stupid ringtone signaling the 85th text message of the day from that special someone.

I am a proponent of texting. I don't want any long back-and-forth text conversations, but I'd rather text someone than have to talk to them on the phone. I don't like to talk on the phone, period.

But in a way I'm glad that there wasn't texting back when I was a teenager--those awkward conversations with my dad over ridiculous long-distance phone charges to girls in nearby counties notwithstanding.

I was always the kind of kid who could lie under a shade tree and daydream about pretty girls and wonder whether that little blonde really liked me because she smiled at me or whether she just needed a sucker to carry her books. But if I'd have had texting and a smart phone beside me back then, I wouldn't even have time to wonder. Everything is spelled out and put in no uncertain terms -- provided you know what acronyms like "SMH" mean.

(By the way, my wife actually asked me last night what "SMH" means, so I told her the truth, "Shaving my hamster." She's yet to understand how that fits into text conversations, but she's not as hip as I am.)

Back in the summer, I learned that one of the best things about being on a cruise ship is that you have to put the phone away and either talk to someone or lie back and watch the ocean for hours. And your phone can be powered off, tucked away in some suitcase pocket. It's like going back in time -- way back to like the 1980s.

So I feel sorry for kids today who get no space, no quiet time and no moments to pick flower petals and say, "He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. Uh-oh, I think I'm allergic to this."

Granted, I'd have preferred that Amy Barker had texted "Get lost you creep!" back in sixth grade instead of yelling it in front of everybody, but there's an exception to every rule.

I'm still SMH over that one.

Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.

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