So many of us speak a new language thanks to our cell phones. We have become electronically bilingual through the use of text messages. Even I, the last dinosaur of the spoken word, have fallen prey to the tiny keys that allow me to send messages full of seemingly random letters. I can throw up deuces at my high school English teachers while I break every rule of grammar I ever learned. I like text messaging. It saves time and allows me to get straight to my point while dispensing with the pleasantries that accompany traditional conversation. But my sister’s text message reminded me that this austere form of communication doesn’t have to be devoid of all emotion.
At the end of her text she typed “Luv u”. I smiled because it was only recently that we started exchanging that closing. I was the one going out of town when it started. I sent back a series of text instructions (sort of an electronic to do list). One went to my mother, my sister and my daughter. I ended each with “Luv u”. My sister texted back that she had forwarded her message on to my daughter since she was sure I had meant it for her. I assured her that I had sent it to the right person and asked why she thought I couldn’t tell her that I loved her? She must have thought about it because ever since then she would end her texts with “Luv u”.
Boy how quickly my generation has taken on a text mentality. Get straight to the point. No extra characters allowed. Statistics show that about 72 percent of adult cell phone users send and receive text messages. Among the meeting reminders, grocery lists, and forwarded jokes, I wonder how many messages remind those that are dear to us just how important they are? No I don’t mean those impersonal mass forwards quoting scripture or poetry. I mean a quick yet heartfelt electronic hug, from one sender to one recipient. As I get older and mortality becomes more of a reality I look for ways to make my carbon stamp on the world a positive one -even electronically.
Emotion is certainly not lost on my daughter and her peers. They have come up with dozens of ways to tell each other they are laughing – LOL (laugh out loud) which I thought for the longest meant lots of love, LMBO (laughing my butt off), VBG (very big grin), SWL (screaming with laughter) ROTFLMBOWPIMP (rolling on the floor laughing my butt off while peeing in my pants) – that was a new one on me, too. With cell phone users, ages 13 to 17, sending and received more than 3,000 texts a month on average, volume is not a problem for our children.
They gush all over each other electronically. LY4E (love you forever), OLL (online love), MUSM (miss you so much), SWAK (sealed with a kiss). They often express too much i.e. the current sexting problem we have where teens (and some of us) are sending sexually explicit photos of themselves to other people. It’s becoming against the law in many states so parents please address it with your teens. I know it falls under the “goes without saying” heading but with even the most sensible teens falling prey, trust me when I say you need to talk about it.
So where is the happy medium? Somewhere between the generations. The truth is parents are often as uncomfortable with their feelings as their teens. No matter what the form, true communication leaves you vulnerable. After all, a heart has to be open before an emotion can go in or out. So POAHF (put on a happy face) and make the world a little brighter for the ones you love, one letter at a time.