I admit it, I often hide behind the veneer of text messaging. I’ve always been terrible at picking up the phone, fearful that I would run out of things to talk about while at the same time unable to find a socially acceptable reason to end the call gracefully. And since I don’t handle rejection very well, asking for a favor over the phone is even more difficult for me. Anyone waiting for a return call from me, best not be standing by the phone. They may be there for a long while.
My first fear, running out of things to say, likely come from my elementary years. During this time, we moved approximately every two years. From Puerto Rico to Illinois to Delaware and just for good measure, every once in a while we would return back to our home state of California to shake the dust off our feet. Traveling was a novelty for our family and sometimes mom and pop would take pity upon us and allow us to call our cousin long distance.
For the first minute or two, the call was fraught with excitement as we said our hello’s and obligatory, how are you’s. After which we had very little to say and the line would be quiet for minutes on end, each of waiting for the other to come up with a topic of intereat that might ignite the call. It never came. Somehow the call would mercifully end and in time, I came to dread having a receiver handed over to me unless it’s my sister who had a wonderful knack for keeping a conversation going.
Second, I love text messaging in that I can put out a question or request to one or more of my contacts and wait for a response like a grown-up. Just this morning I sent two such text messages, the first to my dad making sure he was still planning on taking me to my doctor’s appointment. The second was to a cousin asking if she would be able to join me to our Good Friday service. With a text message, the responder won’t hear the disappointment in my voice nor see the crestfallen look upon my face if they aren’t able to say yes.
I communicate a lot more with certain loved ones now that we all regularly use text messaging. Is it a perfect medium? No. Don’t get me started about the little keyboard which makes clean typing impossible. Then there’s the lost art of quality letter-writing. If you don’t know what I mean by this, check out Ken Burn’s “Civil War” and read some of the letter’s that are quoted. If you do, you’ll know what I mean. The words that flow from the paper emote such visual effects and feelings, I can close my eyes and it’s like I’m there back in time. I don’t want the moment to end.
Many of the writers had such passion. I love how the men and women wouldn’t hold back. Added to this is the beauty of having the verbiage on parchment paper in the writer’s handwriting, each a unique style of its own. Mom and I were talking about how letter writing was not only becoming a dying art, but that we are losing out because most of us don’t bother printing text or email messages. Why bother? They don’t have the quality of a true handwritten card or letter.
I think about the wooden chest I have in the garage filled with correspondence. They speak to my heart. There’s the letter from my uncle who wrote to us when we lived in Brazil asking if I was still a little roly poly (what can I say, I was a round albeit cute baby). And there are the countless birthday and random cards from my grandmother who rarely failed to include scripture at the end that she felt compelled to share. Then there are the letters I wrote to my best friend in High School that she gave back to me when we returned to the states after two years in Iran. We wrote to each other faithfully for over six-months promising that we would give each other our letters back once both our families got home.
It makes me sad that our children and our children’s children will likely miss this medium in exchange for the pros of text/email messaging.