All my life, I have been able to function and use my hands without ever noticing my thumbs weren’t working properly.
I’ve been able to hold a pencil, type on a computer, play multiple sports, and even become a professional guitar player, all the time not knowing my thumbs had a problem.
But now that has all changed. Today, when I see people using their thumbs to talk to one another, I’m challenged. It’s amazing to watch the rapid-fire thumb language of texting take place on Smart Phones. I can’t compete and I now realize my thumbs have a major disability.
A market survey reveals that the average 18-24-year-old sends out 3,200 texts per month. That is over 100 texts per day or an average 1 text every 9 minutes! In other words, our culture is transitioning to a form of communication that requires very coordinated thumbs although Siri helps. We used to say someone is mute when he/she couldn’t talk, now you are mute if your thumbs don’t work.
What are the implications of this new form of communication and why do we do it?
1. Texting Allows You To Stay in Control
Today, it seems that we prefer to write short letters (texts) rather than make the phone call. Why? I believe it is because we want to maintain control over the conversation.
Whenever you send a text you can control what you are going to say and when you want to say it. It is one-way communication without having to deal with immediate reactions, pushback, long-windedness, etc., of others. You stay in control.
In fact, it is happening right now as I write this blog. I am in control and you have very little interaction with me beyond making a comment below. Even in your comment, you maintain control and craft your response without having to interact directly with me. This is how written communication (i.e. texting) works—you stay in control.
How will this impact a culture over the long haul? Hard to say, but if we limit verbal interaction by texting, we also limit the opportunity to practice thinking on our feet and having to deal with others’ emotions. Scripture highlights that Christians are called to love one another by being patient with each other (c.f. Matthew 22:39, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Could the desire to control our conversations with texting be creating an impatient loveless culture in the future? Only time will tell.
2. Texting Allows You To Save Time
In our busy “gotta go” world, time management is a very important issue. Texting can be a major time saver when compared to a normal telephone call. Think about it! If you communicate by text, you can bottom line a discussion and tell people what you want to tell them without having to wade through a bunch of useless small talk. Makes sense right?
I wonder if we are missing something by how we define “wasting” time? Is it a waste of time hanging out with friends and talking about life? Is it a waste of time to have a romantic dinner and share your heart? Is it a waste of time to chat with grandma and see how she’s doing?
Of course not, because we know that talking with others, being social, and using our vocal chords builds relationships and the way God made us. (c.f. Ephesians 5:19). Verbal back and forth communication, even if it is small talk, is never a waste of time. Texting can seem like it saves you time, but from a relational development standpoint, are we falling behind? Only time will tell.
One last thought…
Please know that talking with thumbs doesn’t come naturally for my generation (i.e., 45+ yrs. old). We are trying, but most of us are better at using our vocal chords. So on behalf of all remedial thumb people out there, I want to say thank you for showing us patience as we try to keep up with you. Hey, maybe every once in a while you can throw us a bone and answer your phone when we call. We would really appreciate it! 🙂
 MC Marketing Charts, Research by Media Television, Sept. 19, 2011.
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