Thursday, January 28, 2010
I am among the world’s worst texters. It literally takes me 15 minutes to respond to a text with two sentences (responding is all I do, by the way). It takes me even longer if I try to insert a smiley-face.
I only communicate with two people via text. Although they are both around my age, they have one big advantage over me: They are both mothers of teenagers.
It has become common knowledge that, for 21st-century parents, there is a required technology upgrade as your kids get older.
However, unlike my kids, I am in no hurry to improve my software.
It also is well-known that texting (unlike Trix) is not just for kids. I have friends who are in their late 20s, and many of them prefer texting to other modes of communication.
These 20-somethings and even my eldest son (just barely) are reportedly members of Generation Y, among the most text- and tech-savvy people on the planet.
Generation Y comprises those born between 1980 and 2000, according to my handy-dandy, summation-strong copy of “The World Almanac for Kids 2010.”
The almanac describes Gen Y as “the first generation to grow up fluent in — and some say too reliant on — digital technology.”
This group’s unlimited texting and ubiquitous cell phone use are just functions of that fluency. They grew up with that technology, and they are a natural fit.
That is not always the case for Generation X’ers.
Those of us born between 1965 and 1979 can still clearly remember life before texting, and it is a nice memory. For us, typing out our conversations is often seen as unnecessarily cumbersome compared to just speaking into a receiver.
It is just a sign of our times.
It’s kind of like how former president Harry S. Truman never liked using telephones. Reportedly having grown up without one, he preferred to communicate primarily by writing letters — in longhand.
Also noteworthy in the almanac’s description of Gen X is that it is the latest generation not to be defined by its relationship to technology.
The almanac characterizes those of us who are now ages 31 to 44 as well-educated, independent-minded and “obsessed with pop culture.”
Unlike more recent generations, we weren’t exposed to the innumerable options and specialized knowledge of the truly World Wide Web.
Instead, most of us spent our time watching Wile E. Coyote get blown up on Saturday mornings, wearing Underoos under our Geranimals, and deciding whether we were more like Jan or Marcia.
Pop culture was our commonality, just as technology is for teenagers today.
Before us, there were the almanac-defined “idealistic and free-spirited” Baby Boomers. That group made enormous strides in civil rights, more freely got divorced and hoped they died before they got old.
When I mentioned this fact to my 8-year-old, a member of Generation Z or the Internet Generation, he said, “That’s crazy. I hope I get old before I die!”
It will be interesting to see what defines that group, born in 2001 and after — although it most certainly will involve technology.
They are “the first to grow up with a lifelong use of communications technology such as Internet, cell phones and digital cameras,” and likely will develop and utilize things beyond our imaginations today.
Maybe by the time they come out with those, I will be able to text like the wind.