HALLIE EPHRON: Remember the hours and hours we used to spend on the phone with our dearest friends? No longer. Technology has made the telephone obsolete.
One of my dearest friends and a frequent commenter on this blog is Patricia Kennedy. Like me, she's no technophobe, but we've been astonished by the rapid change in how our kids and grandkids will (or won't) communicate with us.
Phone: NO. Email: Used to be YES, now NO. Text messaging: Most definitely.
Pat and I agree: The pace of change has been, well, deafening.
PATRICIA KENNEDY: Unlike some in my age group, I love the challenge of new technology. To be honest, I like to show off my mojo because I think it puts me into a younger and hipper class than my chronological years suggest. Besides it allows all sorts of new ways to talk and chat. And, as everyone who knows me will gleefully accept, my childhood nickname “Chatty Patty” is well-deserved.
HALLIE: But as fast as you and I have run to keep up with technology, it seems to be one step ahead of us.
PAT: So true. Recently I stayed with three ‘tween grandchildren for five days. I was dismayed to find that my embrace of new communication-technology is now totally obsolete.
No one under the age of twenty emails anymore! I already knew – and lamented – that our youngsters are unable (or unwilling) to use a telephone for voice-to-voice communication. That staple of teenage angst – hours on the telephone with a best friend – has vanished. The grandchildren – and their friends – seem to be totally terrified of being “on the phone.” Now it’s all staccato bursts in abbreviated, rapid texts.
What totally intrigues me is the FaceTime phenomenon. You don’t go over to a best friend’s house, or meet up at the playground, or hang out on the corner. You talk to each other on screens.
I find that kind of weird talking to a grainy, distorted image, but the kids don’t. It’s “normal” as thirteen-year-old Finn says. (“Normal,” his favorite adjective, describes everything he accepts into his world including food and people as well as technology.)
I listened to Reilly one afternoon as he did his homework with his friend VuPhong via FaceTime. They are both ten years old and love solving tough math problems together. It was hard to avoid eavesdropping as Reilly wandered around the kitchen with his iPad Mini.
One conversation went like this:
Reilly: “Look at page 2, the second question.”
VuPhong: “It’s kind of fuzzy. I can’t read it on the screen.”
Reilly: “just look at your real paper…don’t try to read it on your Mini.”
Reilly: “Show me your house. I always wondered what it looks like.”
VuPhong: “I’m not supposed to take friends into my mother’s bedroom so we can’t go there.”
I’m not going to start chatting with my friends via FaceTime. For one thing, my screened-face looks even more dragged down at the corners than it does in real life. And, I’m certainly not taking people on a tour of my bedroom anytime soon. But if Reilly wants to chat that’s probably another story.
HALLIE: Yes, that camera angle, shooting up from under the chin. Deadly.
I pretty much only call my daughters except when I want a good long talk. And often their end of the conversation begins, "Is everything all right?" And we use Facetime to watch our grandbaby -- though she has yet to show much interest in watching us.
So Reds, are you getting with the program and texting? Skyping or Facetiming? Or are you dialing and dragging your younger relatives back into the technologically stodgy past?