I'm sick of losing things and tired of learning things; one's as bad as the other.
I lost two phones in the last month, (not lost so much as dropped into receptacles of liquids), lost my computer for weeks when it refused to play with me any longer, lost all my money (which wasn't a mother lode by any stretch) when a credit card collection company, the prowling thieves in the night, tapped into my account and heisted every penny.
That's some of what I lost. What I learned – besides that bad things do not happen in threes, but at least nines – is how to text, Facebook, and semi-learned a new phone that was erroneously described by Alltel as “an upgrade.” Hey, if this creepy, arrogant little phone is an upgrade, every other phone flunked out after first semester!
And what have all these technological miracles saved us from? Cells have saved us from ever having to talk from our homes rather than while swerving to miss a tree.
Texting saves us from ever having to verbalize a thought rather than tapping it onto tiny keys with bulbous fingertips.
Facebook has blessed us with new friends – many of which, without the accompanying photo, we'd have no idea what they even look like.
Only FB allows us to share with these strangers “what's on our mind” for the day. You know, things like, “Having a bad day. My cat coughed up a hairball on the carpet.” And whimsical replies like, “Oh no! Cats are crazy, aren't they? LOL!”
I was probably the last to realize “LOL” means “Laugh out Loud,” universally signifying, “That was a joke … a really, really funny one.”
And like every trend, it's annoyingly overused, added to phrases with no semblance of humor. Are we to believe this bored sender who just wrote, “…it's freezing outside! Lol” is at that very second almost falling off her chair laughing?
Did we really need cell phones, text blather, Facebook chatter, or computers?
Well, yeah, we DO need computers. I entertain no warm nostalgia for my old Smith-Corona, with which in the 90s I was able to finish a 600-word column sometimes in less than five days. With a computer instead of archaic longhand and typing, maybe Bill Shakespeare and Ed Poe might have made names for themselves.
But even though I can never go back, I did not need texting in my life. If I had something to say, I just said it. Besides the added monthly charges and countless highway fatalities texting incurs, it's making articulate writing obsolete. Sending texts is jeopardizing every proper writing principle I've ever learned.
My new upgraded, yet vastly inferior phone won't allow me to text-ramble as my old phone did. No, this little thief (each separate text is a new charge, ya know) stops me in mid-sentence with no warning. Just an annoying, after-the-fact beep telling me I've exceeded my generous 160 digit limit. When you drag things out like I do, a simple reply often turns into “parts 1, 2, and 3.”
To combat all the extra charges for multiple sends, one learns accepted abbreviations and invents new ones. After years of this kind of literary cheating, it can become a permanent state. If I ever do send a book off to publishers, the first line — the one that has to ensnare the reader — might read, “'U could B my friend 4 life,' said the man to a gal. ‘But now I must kill U; LOL.'”
And don't get me started on Facebook, which is something that sounded absurd when I first heard about it from a former Trib columnist with a really big head, Sean Thompson. Sean (and although I never met him, I'm taking him at his word that his head's quite large), wrote how his equally large-meloned college brother Cory was having a FB relationship with “Sports Equipment Girl,” who he'd never spoken to.
I don't know how that turned out, but now, years later, I not only know what Facebook is, but was pushed into that weird world kicking and screaming. It's no way to live, but now I can't find my way back out.
Hey, didn't I tell you not to get me started on Facebook? I'll expound in more detail next week, hopefully in a way that will make you chuckle silently to yourself, if not outright LOL.