Communication breakdown

Nomophobia – the irrational fear of being out of mobile phone contact. When I found this little gem of information while researching this column, I’ll admit I just had to laugh. The sad part is, I know several people who probably suffer from this debilitating affliction. Cell service goes down, whether for five minutes, five hours or five days, and it’s as if the entire world has come to a tragic end for these poor souls. What I found even more humorous – there’s actually a website devoted to the treatment of nomophobia, for those seeking information on how to deal with this particular anxiety disorder.

I guess you could say that I’m a touch old-fashioned when it comes to cell phones (and modern technology in general, I suppose). Ten years ago I was adamant I’d never own one of the damn things. In my mind, I just didn’t see the point, a land-line was just fine with me. If I wasn’t home it was no big deal, that’s what answering machines are for. In addition, I simply didn’t like the idea that people could reach me at any time of day, no matter where I was or what I might be doing. It almost seemed too intrusive in some way.

Fast-forward to today and I, of course, own a cell phone. Doesn’t everybody? And while the newer models sport all sorts of gadgets and applications, mine is what you could, I imagine, call a relic of the past. No touch screen, flashlight, keyboard, high definition video, global positioning system, can opener or Swiss Army Knife for me. Put it this way – I won’t be multi-tasking while waiting in traffic anytime soon. In fact, my phone doesn’t even have text messaging. That, however, was a conscious decision.

I don’t like texting, I never have and I’m quite sure I never will. This, of course, from the guy who said he’d never own a cell phone in the first place. I guess I shouldn’t make generalizations such as that, but hey, at least I have an opinion and I’m not scared to share it.

I simply find texting to be annoying and, in some cases, quite rude. Every time I’m involved in a conversation with a friend, or group of friends, and someone “interrupts” the discussion to receive or send a text, I want to scream. In addition, I just don’t see the point in typing a message on a device that, miraculously, also serves as a phone. I guess what I saying is, if I want to talk with someone, I’ll just call them. If they want to talk to me, they can do the same. Sounds logical to me yet, as we all know, the world isn’t entirely logical these days.

For example ...

A recent survey I discovered – shortly after my introduction to nomophobia and the laughter which ensued – states that teenagers, between the age of 14 and 17, send approximately 3,400 text messages per month. That’s right around 850 per week, 120 per day and 6 per hour. Personally, I find those statistics staggering, to put it mildly, and I’m sure a number of these teenagers unknowingly suffer from nomophobia. How tragic.

Equally disturbing – the number of automobile accidents which occur on a daily basis due to people texting while driving. It’s bad enough that far too many individuals continue to talk on their cell phones while cruising about, but texting? Unbelievable. I don’t know about you but, while driving, I tend to avoid activities like reading a book or typing up an e-mail.

However, my major beef with texting would be the idiotic creation of the “texting language,” which substitutes letters for entire words and abbreviations for a slew of non-sensical acronyms, the number of which seems to grow by the day. In ten years we’ll be lucky if kids know how to read or write the English language. Laccetti and Molski, in an essay titled The Lost Art of Writing, state that “unfortunately for these students, their bosses will not be ‘laughing out loud (LOL)’ when they read a report that lacks proper punctuation and grammar, has numerous misspellings, various made-up words and silly acronyms.”

I couldn’t have said it any better.

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