The other day my friend, Scott, was
telling me how he just returned from a big technology show in Phoenix,
where he was indoctrinated with wisdom about the future of communications;
how that I should prepare for it by creating a cell phone application,
or app for my newspaper, RoundAbout; how that people today
want information immediately and portable.
I handed him a copy of the newspaper.
Thats not what I mean, he replied, pulling out his fancy
Droid Eris phone and waving it at me. People want their information
on demand and downloadable onto their phones. He slid his finger
across the screen of his electronic toy as all sorts of cute little icons
suddenly illuminated and danced to life.
I gave him a blank stare as I reached for my tiny, out-dated, flip-phone
that can only text and, well, call people.
Yes, Ive experienced texting. My 14-year-old daughter taught me.
But my problem is, I dont know when the conversation ends. I mean,
how do you respond to LMAO? Is that good enough? Are we done?
Or is the person on the other end expecting more? Do people ever text:
I know that TTYL is a pretty solid goodbye, but its
not like you can hang up and be done, like in the good ol days.
Youre still connected! The darned thing keeps chirping with more
Another problem is getting used to the texting lingo. Usually, the person
on the other end is two or three texts ahead of me before I can type the
word K, which is short for OK. Which is crazy
because, to me, OK seemed short enough already.
Seems like every day I get a text with a new acronym that throws me for
a loop. Im still standing there trying to piece it all together
like a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune when more texts start flying
in. These texters use more acronyms than a government employee!
And people can actually drive while doing this?
States are now passing new laws to ban texting while driving, but Im
just now getting used to driving 20 mph below the speed limit when caught
behind a weaving driver who still uses the cell phone to talk.
Please one law at a time!
But getting back to Scott... He says the future lies in the ability to
click on a button on his cellular device (formerly called a phone) and
launch an application and download the stories from the RoundAbout.
Im not sure my readers are ready for RoundAbout stories to be condensed
to a mere 140 characters.
No, wait. Thats Twitter. Im not even going there. (Are people
who use Twitter called Twits?)
I dont have the time for all this twitting and texting and downloading.
Im perfectly happy with my simple phone. The kind you actually use
to talk with someone. Verbally. With complete words and sentences.
Oh wait, hold on a minute. There goes my phone again. A text from Scott.
Its only his 25th one today. And those are just the ones he sent
to ME. I would text him back to tell him to quit texting me, but I cant
find the Q on this phone.
Besides, Im trying to drive here!
Now hes sending me a photo of the snow outside. As if I couldnt
look out the window and see it for myself. Now hes texting me to
invite me to log onto his Facebook page to see more photos hes taken
today with his phone!
Facebook now thats another story. A place where you can go
to tell people what youre having for dinner. Or what youre
wearing. Or what your pet is doing. Or what you happen to be thinking
about at any particular time of the day...
You get the idea. Mindless drivel for those with too much time on their
hands. Or is it mindless? Or even drivel? Could this really be the wave
of the future? Is this really how we are going to communicate information
in this wireless age? Social Media, theyre calling it.
Thats a fancy term for digital socializing. But you really dont
need a fancy phone to socialize. You can experience that every morning
at the coffee counter in your local convenience mart or at the checkout
line at Wal-Mart and save yourself the $65 a month. Plus another $30 per
month for the digital package to connect your phone to the
Internet. And that doesnt even cover the cost of the phone!
But if you really want to learn anything, youll have to pick up
a newspaper and read the full story complete with quotes and background
and explanation and context. Every word spelled out. Sentences longer
than 140 characters. No danger of getting dropped.
Remember when the telephone company used to advertise the slogan: Reach
out and touch someone? Now theyre developing hands-free texting.
Guess weve come full circle.
I admit, I am a victim of the technological revolution. Its unavoidable.
I never use my land-line telephone anymore except to answer calls
from tele-marketers. The stamp to mail in the monthly long distance bill
costs more than the bill itself. The only reason I dont cancel my
land line service is because I want the fire department to find my house
in case of an emergency.
Come to think of it, paying my home telephone bill is probably as easy
as punching some numbers into my stupid cell phone.
Is there an app for that?
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.