What’s Wrong With Texting?

Hicks kids and Dan 009Yes, born-again. That’s me, I’ll admit it, right up front. I’ve been worried about the dangers lurking behind technological changes for some time now. Dangers that could unravel society as we know it. Turns out I was correct about the unraveling part, but I didn’t realize that this new world of technology would lead to such dynamic improvements in living.

It’s always difficult to admit defeat. I don’t want to be in the same boat with wishy-washy politicians such as Mitt Romney – or Mr. Obama, our multi-tasking President. Let’s just say I’ve made a few “strategic adjustments” in my thinking.

My change of heart was reinforced by an article in the St. Petersburg Times, since renamed theTampa Bay Times, Dec. 18, 2011, “Talking face to face is so … yesterday,” by Dominique Browning. “It’s hard, face-to-face emoting, face-to-face empathizing, face-to-face expressing, face-to-face criticizing.”

Sigmund Freud was responsible for my old problems. I had to be careful when interacting with others and suspicious of their hidden and sometimes unconscious motivations. So there I was, walking on tippy toes, full of guilt and worrying about potential social blunders.

As a psychologist, it finally dawned on me that most of the people I saw in private practice had problems that originated with face time: Children bickering and defying their parents, marital problems based on dour facial expressions and poor verbal communications. My solution? All of these problems could be eliminated by simply doing away with face-to-face relationships. In addition, I got rid of my smart phone and stopped using Skype. Now I could avoid the tyranny of facial and other non-verbal communications.
A second advantage to my new world is the ability to escape tough questions, direct questions demanding immediate responses, questions that put me on the hot seat. In the old days, ASAP emails demanded an immediate response — and these folks wouldn’t go away. Creative fibs held them at bay for a while, but sooner or later they’d pin me to the wall. Now I don’t tolerate annoying or intrusive questions because I don’t expose myself to others. No openness means no hurt.I remember a psychologist who preached self-disclosure as a marker and goal for mental health. What a joke. Sure, some Americans enjoy burdening others with their narcissistic babble, but his theory didn’t prosper in Great Britain and wasn’t a favorite among auto mechanics, either.
Some of my colleagues still think “in-your-face” communications are most important. They claim they learned more in bull sessions in college than in formal classroom settings. But, as is usually the case, my acquaintances had forgotten all about their negative experiences: All that time wasted, waiting for some idiotic kernel of sophomoric insight. Only rarely did my companions contribute something that helped me directly.And, worst of all, they often misunderstood my position and wanted to talk about themselves and other people’s problems – people who weren’t about to benefit me.
Of course, classrooms are obsolescent these days. We’re replacing them with no-nonsense, distance-learning centers.I recall one time, when my sixth wife told my lawyer that our son e-mailed to say he was doing fine in college. I made the mistake of calling him on the phone and could tell from his voice, sighs, and other non-verbal communications that he was depressed. More worries for me, so I didn’t call him again.Now I stick to what I call “sweets” (short tweets) and confine myself to the WHAT’S and HOW’S, not WHY’S. And I never inquire about feelings, that’s rule number one. So much tidier this way.Actually, I don’t really care if other people are having problems. Usually it’s their own fault: overweight because they eat too much, or out of money because they’re too lazy to work hard, or wasting their time worrying about (what they refer to as) friends. This is an unnecessary burden.If someone I know is seriously depressed, they can “sweet” me and I’ll arrange to “sweet” for a taxi and notify the emergency room. This is the more efficient course of action. I don’t get e-mails from my son, anymore. Guess he’s doing okay, or he’s just too busy. Maybe they’re right – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Now I’m taking the word social out of social interactions. I stick to the facts – and I’m better for it. I avoid cocktail parties with their gooey intimacy, those social talkathons organized by women to drive men to drink. And I can be politically incorrect because no one seems to care what I think anymore. Good. Maybe Ayn Rand had it right; she just didn’t go far enough. Government burden? What about social burdens? Maybe I’ll vote for Ron Paul. I hear he’s going to offer free Chiropractic care for one and all – kind of an Obama Plus Plan.

Here’s the best part: I’m ageless. Nobody views my face or my picture and I don’t have to see deterioration on the faces of people I “sweet.” No gray hair, double chins, or sagging faces — and those yucky bodies – disgusting.

You might think this approach is less than healthy, but I recall one definition of mental health that has always stuck with me: If a person can live in a cabin in the mountains without social contact for years at a time and be happy, he or she is in good shape. And it’s a good measure of intelligence and education as well.

Yes, lots of books and quiet, undisturbed walks in the woods. Today we can add “sweets” and e-readers, so what more do we need? Remember the existentialists? Human relationships are two ships passing in the night. Why not plot a course to eliminate collisions – and even sightings?

Excuse me now, I’ve got to go. I’ve wasted enough of my valuable time writing this paper. What’s in it for me, anyway?