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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

OMG! This blog is about texting!!! Isn't it GR8? Well...not really...

Remember how a couple of days ago at the end of my blog posting that I posted a video of Weird Al Yankovic's 'Amish Paradise'?  It was meant as a joke posting to offset a rather serious one that I talked about.

The more I think about it though, the more I think that song sort of describes me in a sense.

As far back as I can remember, I have never really embraced the idea of having the newest technological devices, or having any interest in keeping up with the latest gadgets and gimmicks that seemed to be offered up every six months or so.

In some ways, I almost feel like if there is such a thing as reincarnation, that in my previous life, I must have been Amish.

I have no interest in wanting to get a Kindle, as I prefer paper books anyday.  I certainly don't need an Iphone, Ipod, or Itunes in my Ilife.  And the only blackberry I would buy is in the produce department for $2.97 a container.

That's not to say that I have completely ignored technology as a whole though.  I do own a Nintendo DS and play it quite often.  I have a DVD player (and am thinking about upgrading to Blu-Ray at some point).  And obviously, I would not be writing this blog if I didn't embrace the wonder of the personal computer (though I do also enjoy writing in a notebook).

One thing that I swore to myself that I would never get would be a cell phone.  For years, I had thought that cell phones were one of the most obnoxious inventions ever invented in the history of modern technology.

For years, I always saw cell phones as more of an annoyance than an asset.  Though it wasn't necessarily because of the phone itself.  It was more because of the people using them.

I mean, sure, back when cell phones were quite rare, it was nice to see them appear.  It's hard to forget the massive paperweight sized monster of a mobile phone Zack Morris used in the early nineties on Saved By The Bell.  Since then, technology evolved in such a way that the cell phones shrunk in size and increased in how much it was capable of.

Unfortunately since then, the people using these cell phones have become more reckless and irresponsible in using them.

Take an incident that happened to me about ten years ago.  I don't even remember what movie it was that I had to review for my school newspaper that I worked at, but regardless, I had to go to a movie premiere to review the film for the entertainment section.  It was a really big deal for me because I had never been to a premiere for a film before, and since it was my first experience at a premiere, I wanted it to be perfect.

I know I probably overprepared for the movie, but I dressed up for the event (not like suit and tie...more like my best pair of jeans and a decent sweater), and I was really looking forward to being one of the first people to see the new movie that was out.

As it happened, the movie theatre was completely packed, so finding a seat was harder than I thought it was.  It also didn't help matters much that my bus got held up at every red light possible and I ended up just making it in time to see the previews.

I ended up finding a seat within the first four rows of the theatre.  I normally don't like sitting so close to the movie screen, but since I was assigned to review the film, beggars could not be choosers.  I ended up sitting right next to this woman who was impeccably dressed.  She looked as if she was about five, six years older than I was (I was barely 20 at the time this incident happened), and I was thinking that it was going to be a nice day to watch a movie.

I thought wrong.

About a half hour later, I hear chattering near me.  At first I thought nothing of it, as people sometimes talk during movies to ask their dates if they wanted more popcorn, or excusing themselves to use the washroom after one too many gulps of 7-Up from their oversized drink cups.  But for some reason, I thought that the chattering was a little too intense, and that the source was extremely close to me.  It made it hard to concentrate on the film because of it.  So, I looked around the theatre to see what the source was, and as it turned out, the woman sitting next to me was talking on her cell phone DURING THE MOVIE.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I could hear every word she was saying.  Therefore, it wasn't hard to pick up on the fact that not only was this idiot talking to someone on a cell phone during the movie, but the fact that she was on the phone with her boyfriend ENDING THE RELATIONSHIP is the epitome of classlessness, in my own personal opinion.

Honestly, I wanted to strangle this woman.  Like, seriously, I had a job to do, and her cell phone gabbing was preventing me from doing mine!  I wanted to say something, I really did, but then if I had and she caused a disturbance, I would have possibly been thrown out of the theatre.  In all likelihood, she would have been the one to go, but I didn't want to take the risk.

So, I sat in silence while the ignorant doughhead dumped her boyfriend through a handheld phone, while secretly wishing that the below scene from 1000 Ways To Die happened...

...well, okay, I'm not THAT violent.  But I can probably name about a dozen people who would be.

I think that incident sped up my total dislike for cell phones...more specifically cell phone users.

I know some people will argue with me about how important cell phones are to them, and how they cannot imagine life without them.  To which I reply 'you were doing just fine ten years earlier, weren't you?'.  But, I admit begrudgingly that cell phones if used correctly can be an asset.  If your car breaks down, you can call a tow truck.  If you're running late to a dinner event or a work related task, you can let them know in seconds.

In fact, in December 2010, I broke down, and received my very first cell phone ever.  It's nothing fancy.  Just a simple pay-as-you-go mobile phone that you add money to with phone cards.  It's the perfect plan for me, as I very rarely use a cell phone except for emergency purposes.  That's all I need to do with mine.  I don't need to go on the Internet with it, or play Angry Birds on it, or listen to music on it.  I just need it to make calls.

But, lately, it seems as though cell phones aren't really being used to make phone calls anymore.

Lately it almost seems as though talking on a phone using the phone keys and your voice is going 'old school'.

Apparently the thing that the cool kids are doing nowadays is something called texting.  I'm sure that I don't need to explain text messaging to all of you.  Chances are that 95% of you reading this blog have sent at least one text message to someone.  I'll even admit to sending the odd text message.  Heck, a few of you might even be accessing this blog through your handheld phones right now!

I don't text very often though.  For one, I tend to be quite verbose (as if you couldn't tell already), and the idea of typing in a text message with all of those kooky abbreviations doesn't appeal to me.  Of course, considering that there was a time where people got charged by the letter, it made sense why people tried to text in shorthand whenever possible.

I'm also very anal about spelling mistakes, so I tend to text in complete sentences written with immaculate grammar and spelling.  Not exactly the way the 'cool kids' text, but then again, I never really wanted to be a cool kid anyway.

Maybe I'm kind of acting like an old fogey when I admit this, but I really don't see the appeal of condensing perfectly good English words into a combination of letters and numbers that look more like binary coding or license plate numbers than an actual message.  Worse is when they take some of that text speak and incorporate it into e-mail messages, discussion forums, Facebook statuses, or even homework assignments!  Just because you can text doesn't mean that people automatically have the right to bastardize the English language.

Maybe on a funny T-shirt, it can be cute to look at, but just personally speaking, I much appreciate receiving a message that looks like a lot of thought went behind it.  To me, reading a message that is peppered with C U L8R, LOL, GTG, and other abbreviations is incredibly hard to understand.  I'd rather people took the time to type out the full words.  But, I guess that's just me, I suppose.

And some people I know are so obsessed with missing a text that they take their cell phones EVERYWHERE THEY GO.  At the supermarket.  At school.  In church.  I even recall someone who was in the bathroom talking on their cell phone as know.  Classy.

It's almost become like a sort of addiction of some sorts.  I can recall one instance where I almost got plowed into by someone who was texting while steering a shopping cart.  I mean, common sense should tell you that driving any sort of vehicle, whether it be a car, truck, or shopping cart and texting is NEVER a good idea.

And people seem to take their cell phones to the world's most awkward and unacceptable places.  I've seen people bring cell phones to funerals.  I've seen people take cell phones to the bathroom (as I said before).

And while I admit that having my cell phone kept me in contact with the outside world when I was recovering from surgery, I certainly didn't use it while I was undergoing a medical procedure, or something similar.  I wouldn't have wanted THIS to happen.

Now, granted, this is an extreme example, and you more than likely are not going to be stabbed to death while trying to reach your cell phone on an acupuncture table, but the fact is that texting is an activity that is not without risk.  Text messaging can be a safe way to communicate with your friends, but only if you use common sense.  It's absolutely baffling to me to see how many people are so absorbed with their cell phones and gizmos to understand that there are dangers behind tuning everything else around you.

The stats are that accidents related directly to irresponsible use of a cell phone are rising.  Tests done by experts have seemingly proved that driving while texting was more dangerous than driving drunk.

Texting while driving has resulted in many accidents on the road, some with fatalities.  In fact, on September 12, 2008, a head-on collision between two trains in California killed twenty-five people.  The result of the crash was blamed on the operator of one of the trains, who had sent dozens of text messages while the train was in motion.

The idea of texting while driving is a notion that I would never partake in.  I'm not a very good driver undistracted...I don't need any additional things to monopolize my attention.  Common sense should tell people that texting while driving is not safe by any means.  It can become so easy to lose control of the wheel, and before you know it, you end up hurt or worse.

I know this blog entry sounds more like a public service announcement, but it's important.  I'm sick of people getting hurt and losing their lives because they can't seem to go anywhere without their phone.  Yes, it's handy to have for emergency purposes, but it shouldn't be a permanent appendage to your body.  And just like everything else in life, there's a right place and a wrong place to use a cell phone. 

I've talked about the lighthearted moments, like sitting beside someone at a movie theatre, but it's important you all see just how deadly texting while driving can be.

The following video may be a bit difficult to watch.  There are some graphic scenes in the video, so young kids may not want to watch.  But if there was ever a video that can show people just how deadly texting while driving can be, this is the one to watch.

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