There used to be this great expression — “mailing it in” — which is no longer relevant because most people don’t use traditional mail anymore. Apparently, we don’t even need the postal service any more. Someone that was mailing it in was essentially doing the impersonal minimum, certainly not their best, bringing a lackluster performance.
Kids these days don’t use or understand mailing it in, so I am revamping the expression to “texting it in.” I know I’m old because I still loathe the concept of the cell phone, nevermind the internet or texting. My phone’s ringtone sounds like the alarm in a submarine as it is diving to avoid depth charges. Remember depth charges? Most of the time, my phone’s ring gives me the same feeling as depth charges raining down from faceless ships above: abject terror.
Most of my phone calls are benign, but you won’t catch me gabbing mindlessly and endlessly into my smartphone, no sir. Besides, no one talks into smartphones anymore. It’s still texting.
As you can imagine, I like to whip out quick, witty texts full of innuendo, clever spellings and punctuations. But our smartphones are way smarter than us, and they know what you are trying to say and fix your errors for you — mostly when you are not looking. I have sent some pretty lousy texts that could have been awesome, but the smartphone corrected my keystrokes. Other times, the autocorrect function has saved me from needing to know how to spell anything anymore ever. I do sometimes appreciate that. I am conflicted.
For old people like me, texting is inherently frustrating. We don’t have the time to dedicate to mastering texting, so we always handle it with a bit of clunk and clutter. First of all, if I am going to read or send a text, I need some pretty powerful reading glasses, or the fuzzy letters just linger tauntingly outside my visual reach.
I’m not sure if this happens to you, but I often get texts that I cannot tell who they are coming from. I can’t tell you how many times I have either deleted a text or had to write back asking, “Who is this?” Give us old folks a break! Sign your silly text. You might not be in my contacts and I’d hate to waste any precious time not getting back to you.
Texting is convenient, but it is the most impersonal means of communication I’ve been forced into. When I was a kid, we had rotary telephones. We had to slowly, mechanically and deliberately turn the dial for each number in someone’s phone number.
When someone called the home telephone, there was much excitement. I often raced my brothers for the receiver. Back then, there was no call waiting. If your brother was on the phone with his stupid girlfriend, you just had to wait.
You didn’t make a call lightly in those days. It took effort. And the big, heavy, warm handle felt like you were really holding onto something. Made in America. There was a genuine metal bell or two in the old phones that jangled warmly when they rang. Some people use that old jingle as their smartphone ringtone, which probably drives old people out of their skulls every time they hear the fake ring that reminds them of the good old days.
Even in those good old days, I was on the cutting edge of technology. I remember my first cell phone was about the size and weight of a brick. It felt like you were cooking your brain with those old phones. They’d get hot, and you just had to wonder what pressing all that battery power and those wireless waves were doing to the noodle.
I honestly once ran an experiment where I tried to cook an egg between two cell phones on a call to each other. I was trying to create a Phone-B-Q. The result was an egg perhaps slightly above room temperature but not exactly hard boiled.
Yes, I have always been wary of cell phones, and I assumed that people who use them a lot would be filling the cancer wards with golf-ball-sized tumors pressing through their listening ear side. Apparently they don’t fry us like I was sure they did. I’m admitting I was wrong. Just the distraction from operating a smartphone while walking, driving and sometimes even sitting down turns out to be way more hazardous to your health than the actual cell technology.
It’s amazing how fast the kids are texting today, even when driving. I have found that some of the same kids that say they can’t write a good school paper or a decent script can whip out texts faster than most of us can read. In 2014, a 16-year-old kid from Brazil typed out a 25-word paragraph, without mistakes, in 18.19 seconds. That’s a world record! What did he text? I’m so glad you asked.
“The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”
That took me about two minutes to type on my computer keyboard!
Steve Skinner notes that people are bonking into poles and walking off piers while texting. Reach him via his smartphone or write [email protected]