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  • Writer's pictureHanky

Texting ..... or ..... Talking

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

It has become a common sight nowadays to see people thumbing away on their cell phones, totally oblivious to their surroundings. Youngsters especially seem to have developed a routine of hanging out together without any eye contact or verbal exchange.

Whether on the beach or at a friend’s place, at a coffee shop or restaurant, even in a museum

or stadium, they are totally focused on watching that small screen and thumbing the tiny keyboard. So engrossed with their hand-held gadget, they have no idea of what’s happening around them - not even aware if the outburst of cheer was for a touchdown or a homerun.

It has become commonplace to observe a family, where the kids have their own phone, so all members are busy working those “social media” - but there is no bonding.

Texting while in the company of other people is, in fact, very UNFRIENDLY and ANTI-SOCIAL. When around friends, one is expected to talk face-to-face with your mouth, not your thumbs (of course, a little body English is always allowed).

Young people could learn something from observing older people as they gather daily in numerous “coffee clubs” everywhere - all you’ll see on the table or in their hands are their coffee cups or maybe some personal implements. Laptops and cell phones are only brought out to show a photo or graphic relevant to the topic of conversation. And after it has been shown around, the electronic gadget is put away immediately, for those old folks have been taught that flashing such gadget about is very selfish, not to say “selfies”.

Quite possibly you come across some old-timers who - with their coffee - are engaged in playing chess or checkers, dominoes or cards. A tell-tale sign that they grew up in the days when TV was non-existent or very rare. When families “stayed together and played together” - and when board games were the ultimate in home entertainment.

We are not suggesting that society should return to those “good old days” - we don’t even think that would be possible, now that we have already gone so far in becoming digital addicts. Yes, not just young persons depicted above, but many middle-aged and even baby-boomers cannot get through the day without the help of their smart phone. This instrument now controls all facets of life, whether it be to do with banking, shopping, dating, dining, traveling, working or finding and storing all kinds of public information (internet) and personal information, including medical and other private data. All of it secured by your “unique” decimal PIN-code or “unbreakable” P@$$w&rD. So why should you be surprised to hear that the incidence of identity theft is on the rise or to find out that any increase in an app’s convenience is likely paired to a decrease in it’s security. For example: having the convenient “tap” app on your bank card has eliminated the need for the PIN code which you have been so fiercely

protecting. We understand that the odds of winning the jackpot - picking 6

numbers out of 49 - are more than FOUR times greater than breaking any PIN code. No wonder so many hackers would rather try to “break into” someone’s account than buy a lotto ticket.

Years ago, there was a story in which Microsoft top dog Bill Gates was reported to have spoken to the automotive industry boys suggesting that cars would perform so much faster, better and cheaper if they were made on similar technology as computers. To which Lee Iacoca (then Chrysler head honcho) replied: “Yeah, right, but they would conk out every 20 miles!” Indeed, we all have experienced - possibly more than once - that our electronic devices have gone on the blink. And sometimes it is not our individual devices, but it is the whole system or network that goes awry and many users have to suffer the ill effects of an app glitch. Like when recently the ArriveCan app quarantined thousands of people for no reason whatsoever. Or when last month the Rogers network crashed, depriving millions of their cell phone use for hours - they couldn’t even order a cup of coffee!! For once, the elderly kaffeeklatschers had the upper hand as they never use their phone to order or pay for their coffee - they are used to carry around a pocket full of change. Most of the time, however, seniors lose out when it comes to living in a digital society. As more and more not only private but also public services can only be accessed electronically, senior citizens incur more frustration and anxiety in getting even simple tasks done. If they cannot find a (younger) person to help them, they may spend a lot of time trying to get into the system. More often than not, they can’t even get past the password and have to suffer the humiliation of the robot questioning them: “Are you actually human?” The nerve!!

Understandably most old folks nostalgically remember the olden days when there was the human touch in everyday matters. Before faceless robots made the bureaucracy unfriendly and impersonal. When the civil service was exactly that - civil and helpful. No, there’s no hope for ever getting that back. But it would not be such a bad idea if occasionally we should unplug our electronic devices (or get unplugged from them) and spend some time without ring tones and messaging, prompts and alarms. Spend some time relaxing, hanging out with friends or loved ones, paying attention to real people instead of to a demanding robot - be truly human for a while without shame or recriminations. Rekindle that sense of humour so you can smile about your digital shortcomings, knowing that you possess some of life’s attributes that are more valuable than the ability to thumb through the “social media”. Follow the advice we found at a bookstore and go read a book (or, better still, the Gazelle). Last but not least remember what we old people are good at:

We May Not

Have an APP

But Can Always

Have a NAP

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