Society is becoming all thumbs

Way back when, before such modern inventions as cellphones, DVDs and Britney Spears — long before teenagers learned to write with their thumbs, back when “digital” had something to do with a prostate exam, the word “texting”,

Way back when, before such modern inventions as cellphones, DVDs and Britney Spears — long before teenagers learned to write with their thumbs, back when “digital” had something to do with a prostate exam, the word “texting”, if it existed, would probably have had something to do with an ancient form of communication known as a “book”.

Now, however, in this Information Technology-ravaged society, texting has more to do with a sub-culture of curiously distracted creatures wandering around obsessing over small rectangles of metal and plastic in their hands, thumbs flying over tiny keypads until they become painfully inflicted with a particularly unpleasant form of Repetitive Stress Injury to the Thumbs (RSIT).

Ever since the telecommunication industry decided they needed more obscene profits than they already had and invented a way to send written messages on phones, we see otherwise normal people everywhere, clutching cellphones and PDAs (which some people think stands for “Personal Digital Assistant” or even “Public Displays of Affection” but actually stands for “Pretty Darned Annoying”) — there they are, techno-zombies of all ages thumbing messages with the oblivious intensity of a kid with a new toy.

I would estimate, entirely scientifically, that approximately 55 trillion godzillian text messages are sent every single day and that nearly 94.7 per cent of all of those text messages contained “quite a few” serious spelling errors.

But that’s to be expected when you are asking two opposable thumbs — the fattest digit on the human hand (unless you are from Saskatchewan) — asking the fat meaty, padded part of the thumb to press cellphone letters and numbers that are the size of the average ball on the end of an ant’s antennae.

But the point is: 55 trillion godzillian text messages amounts to a lot of thumbing which, unfortunately, can amount to many and varied social problems.

Remember way back a couple of years, before texting, we thought it was insane when people were driving and talking on their cellphones?

Ha, ha, foolish us. Now we humans have found ways to take stupidity to a whole new level by texting while driving.

Many people find it impossible to go without texting for more than several minutes at a time, regardless of whether they are driving, walking, sleeping or operating heavy machinery.

And look what it’s done to destroy personal contact.

True story: I myself was at a nice restaurant recently, sitting on the nice patio with a hearty beverage, enjoying doing business on my Blackberry, when I noticed a young teenaged girl sitting with her mother, a few tables away. The entire time I was there sampling several tasty beverages and reading my emails on my Blackberry, I noticed a disturbing scenario.

The teenager was buried in her cellphone, thumbing away like there was no tomorrow. Not once did she talk to, look at, or in any way acknowledge her poor mother, who sat there having dinner basically by herself, a tear in her eye, wondering what in the world a text message is.

Now some people carry on entire relationships through texting alone. I’m not talking about casual chit-chat engaged by young people through cell phone messaging; I’m talking about full-blown relationships.

That way, you don’t have to go through all that messy business of actually meeting someone.

One of these fine days it will be entirely possible to date, get married and have children, grow old and die purely by texting. And since that would mean even more huge money for the telecommunication corporations, you can bet they are working on the limitless possibilities of Virtual Automatic Texting (VAT) even as we continue furiously thumb-talking away at each other on devices that will soon be obsolete.

In the meantime, texting will consist of regular old thumbing and walking into parking meters. But as our world gets smaller and smaller, and our lives get sucked into the hand-held vortex of electronic communication, just remember, it can, and usually does, get worse.

Wait until the telecommunication giants save all those sore thumbs by figuring out a lucrative profit-making way for people to send messages without texting or talking — by transmitting our very thoughts as we think them.

Now that might be worth getting on your cellphone.

Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.

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