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Photo: A teenager composes a text message on her cell phone in Canton, Mass.

Jodi Hilton, Associated Press

Leni Merriam

file, Facebook photo

Teens text, but they won't talk

  • Article by: Leni Merriam
  • February 19, 2013 - 8:04 PM

Have any idea what this means?

“Whts ^? Wnt 2 go 2 *$ l8r? 4COL I had lng day. Lmk ttyl.”

For those too out of it and not cool enough to know — get with the times. It clearly means: “What’s up? Want to go to Starbucks later? For crying out loud I had a long day. Let me know, talk to you later.”

People (teens mostly) can spend the time to make up these acronyms for text messages. But they won’t answer the phone when you call.

According to a recent survey from Nielsen, the average teen sends more than 3,339 texts per month. This would be more than six texts per hour, a solid 8 percent increase from the previous year. At the same time, calling has decreased by 14 percent in the same age group.

On the weekend, I often find myself texting my friends, trying to make plans. As the night creeps closer, I get bored of texting and of having our plans go nowhere, so I decide it’s time to call and get plans made. I confidently take out my phone and call my friend. It rings once, twice, five times, eight times. Voice mail. Not cool. I know that they have their phone, because they were just texting me seconds before.

Shortly after calling, I receive a message: “Did you call”? Obviously! I’ll then call them again, and still no answer. Why, you ask? Because they were “in the car” or their “parents were in the room.” I can understand this once in a while, but not every time I call. The real reason is because they are socially awkward and haven’t developed enough social skill to actually talk.

The biggest complaints people make about talking on the phone is that is takes too long, or is too intrusive. But the fact is you accomplish in a three-minute conversation what takes 30 back-and-forth text messages. Talking forces people to have give immediate responses and eliminates the time to linger. You also don’t have to spend time trying to invent new acronyms.

And, if you actually are in the presence of an elder, it is much less intrusive to take a three-minute phone call than to be constantly taking out your phone. And, if you’re with a friend and trying to make plans, it is much more polite to leave the room and take a quick call rather than being on your phone the whole time. Plus, it doesn’t make them feel as awkward as seeing you constantly checking your phone.

If you feel it is too awkward to talk on the phone, then how are we supposed to spend the night together hanging out? It would get “awkward” after five minutes of being together. Calling teaches those awkward people how to interact in the real world rather than just hiding behind a keyboard.

One more scary problem that can arise from texting is you don’t always know who is on the other end. I’ve heard of many instances where a friend texted a friend and told them something personal, only to find out later that it wasn’t really their friend they were telling it to. It was the loudmouth guy their friend was hanging out with. And then later at school their “secret business” became everyone’s business.

Clearly, the world has chosen texting over calling, and there are many problems with this new form of communication. But there is an easy solution to this large social crisis. Instead of ignoring your friend’s call, answer it!

My point has been given, and now I g2g but I will ttyl!

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Leni Merriam is a student at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School.

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