Before I get into it today, I want to apologize for not posting in 3 days. I was on a trip with the students in Kuching, Malaysia, and had very “spotty” internet, to say the least!
I like the technology today. when I was younger, if I wanted to phone someone when I was out, I had to find a payphone and hope I had a quarter. Or, I would have to ask the proprietor of whatever establishment if I could use their phone. A message was something you folded up and sent through the mail! There were no such thing as text messages, or voicemail, or IMs or even Facebook. The internet was in its infancy and information technology was not advanced. I used to use my Commodore 64 computer to make birthday banners on my dot-matrix printer and I would get tangled up in the twisted cord every time I used the phone. I got my first e-mail address when I was 18, from Cornell University…class of 1995 was the first class that got e-mail addresses and I love my “MJV1@Cornell.edu” e-mail address (our addresses were our initials and a number to denote how many had those initials before us). Today, we don’t have these problems any more. We are in the information age, where lightning-fast electrical blips give us instant gratification for all our queries. If we want to contact someone, there are 500 different ways to do it, and that’s if they’re not home. Things have changed. I think for the better.
Now, I’m not an advocate of smartphone addiction (and too many people are afflicted by it), but I am an advocate of applications such as WhatsApp and WeChat, where the idea of the “instant message” has been taken off the computer and placed in the telephone. Now you can have a conversation without picking up the phone and paying costly airtime bills. These applications use the internet to communicate between mobile phones.
I think I speak to most of my friends through WhatsApp now, and I don’t even bother picking up the phone. Even Facebook messaging and text messaging have become obsolete. With the text message, you have to wait for a reply and, sometimes, pay extra if you’re over your limit. With WhatsApp, you have instant replies, and it even tells you when the other person is typing and when they were last online. These applications are amazing, and they help people connect more quickly and more often.
But, they, like all other technology, are only as great as the people who use them. And there are some really stupid people out there. I receive too many stupid messages per day to count. It’s like the moron who constantly updates their Facebook status to reflect what he’s doing every minute. These same people tweet their bowel movements and send WhatsApp messages to their friends that say things like “hey,” or “sup!” Why do they feel the need to send this crap?!? Of what purpose are messages like this? Some people might say it’s to begin a dialogue, or to let the other person know they are thinking about them. Well, that’s nice, but SAY THAT! “Hey” and “sup” do not say that….they say “I’m a stupid moron who has nothing intelligent to tell you, but please give me some attention anyway!” Messages such as this flood my WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook messaging. They permeate even my coveted text message inbox. What’s the point?!?! When these messages come in, I ignore them. If you’re too lazy to start a conversation yourself, and send me a “prompt” so I will begin it, I’m not sure I want to be in a conversation with you!
Worse than the one-word message is the no-word message. I’m talking about the random “emoticon” message. Some people can’t even be bothered putting their feelings into caveman syllables and resort to cheesy little smiley faces to speak for them. The emoticon has got to be the worst invention. It was cute in the beginning when people used punctuation marks and letters to mimic facial expressions to end their instant messages or text messages. Cute things like “;-)” and “:-D” were inventive and creative, but, most importantly, they were used as an extra attachment at the end of a message to convey an emotion or feeling. THEY WERE NOT THE ENTIRE MESSAGE!! Nowadays, people use the pre-determined emoticons to try to get their point across with one character. We’ve been reduced to browsing smiley faces and sending one out, instead of actually typing a message. When people say we’ve lost the art of communication and conversation, I immediately think of the emoticon!
I enjoy communicating with my friends all over the world with a touch of the button and instantaneously. It’s nice to remain connected to people even though I may not live in the same country as they do, or even the same time zone. A fact of being an international teacher is that you get to meet people from all over the world, who move around all over the world. Applications like WhatsApp make it easy to stay in touch. I love to hear from old friends, or new friends, and find out about what’s going on in their lives. Messages like “hey” or a random emoticon do not convey that and are more rude than anything else. They tell me that you can’t be bothered to think of something to say, so you’re relying on me to say something first. Don’t be rude, but do stay in touch!