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Can You Hear Me Now?

As far as I'm concerned, technology makes just as much sense as sorcery. But I'm glad it works when it does.

I admit that I am still trying to figure out old technology like telephones. It completely baffles me - despite the fact that I had a friend who was an engineer who worked for BellSouth explain it to me in great technical detail - that I can speak, and my voice is turned into electrical signals that are somehow delivered to a very specific location anywhere around the world at roughly the speed of light, and somehow retranslated not just into the rhythm and cadence of my speech, but something that sounds recognizably like me. This is as unrealistic as teleportation to me. Yet, I accept that it exists, I am grateful that it exists, and I take advantage of it more than I care to.

Since telephones seem like magic to me, you can only imagine how mystified I am by touch screens. I have no idea how I can touch something, and then something complicated happens, whether or not I meant it to happen. See, aside from my eyes, mouth, hands, and general body type, I inherited from my father a neurological condition called Essential Tremor. If you are at all interested in finding out what it actually is, you can click here, however, assuming you do not, I will give it to you in a nutshell: whenever I engage the muscles in my hand, my hand shakes.

Of course, to do nearly anything, including sign my name, eat soup, hold a piece of paper, and put toothpaste on my toothbrush, I have to engage the muscles in my hand. I'll probably write more about this in a later blog, but the bottom line is this: touch screens not only mystify me technologically, but I am completely incapable of using one for precision movement things like typing. On top of that, I am a furnace, giving off so much heat that I am personally responsible for a large chunk of the melting glaciers in the Arctic. My hands are so warm that just putting them near a touch screen makes weird things happen.

So, I am very forgiving of otherwise literate people who send me text messages from their phones with spelling errors, or autocorrect 'fixes' their spelling errors to some completely out of context word. 

I am a very nervous driver. (This is not a subject change, although it sounds like it. Bear with me. I will tie this all together in a moment.) I only feel comfortable changing radio stations at red lights, and only make left turns when absolutely necessary. This means that I am adamantly opposed to anyone texting and driving. I can barely text and continue breathing at the same time: I cannot imagine having to look at a touch screen (since there are no buttons to feel) and texting something extremely urgent like, "wanna meet @ Chilis" while I am driving.

I think the makers of these things are aware that you can only control human behavior so much, and so there are a number of voice-to-text apps that allow you to speak your text message. (Of course, the receiver can have your message read to her when she receives it so she doesn't read and drive at the same time. All of which begs the question - if you are both talking, why don't you just MAKE A PHONE CALL and skip all the technology in the middle?) Sometimes these programs work wonderfully. Sometimes they don't. 

I recently received the following text message from a good friend, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty: "Thank you thank you thank you all my guards this is such a nice short ride at coffee going Esenberg vermicidal of government do I shall return my call my gas is just made my day start up to much better."

When I got it, I had to decide if a) my friend had just taken some major pharmaceuticals, b) my friend was having a stroke and texting at the same time, or c) her auto correct and/or voice to text app was having an extremely bad day.   I puzzled over it for a while, and the only two things I got out of it were that she was thankful and that Esenberg Vermicidal would be a great name for a punk band.

I related this story to a few other friends, and one showed me the following text message that she got from her mother: I think since I have not done a cpmplete accredidation they are wanting someone I get to the name chicken letter this to that I never thought I was has to be done I kind of a great I come out please check the apartment new accredidation doses lobster dinners you and take them to the people I take a deep breath and unlock the door slowly I open a bit and mitre Department start.

After confirming via actual phone call that her mother did not in fact have a stroke (which was her first thought) she learned that her mother was using the voice-to-text app in the car while listening to a book on tape. Incidentally, she is taking orders for t-shirts which say, "I kind of a great". If you want one, let me know. 

And so, in conclusion, technology is great, when it works. But if you have something to say to me, and you want me to get a message to me in a way that I have some prayer of understanding, just tell me.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jane Okrasinski January 30, 2013 at 08:30 PM
I want a t-shirt that says "I get to the name chicken letter"
Lori Duff January 30, 2013 at 08:43 PM
I'll let her know :-)
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) January 31, 2013 at 01:24 PM
I want a t-shirt. In fact, I want 100 of them to give to text-happy friends.
Good Grief Y'all January 31, 2013 at 10:54 PM
I like the convenience of texting, as a solitary task, of course. But it can be a problem to end a conversation. Who stops first? Even "Bye" can lead to one cute little emoticon after another ;)
Lori Duff February 02, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Ha! I have the same problem. It is worse with IM. How do you 'hang up' and still remain on line? This might be a good blog topic, too. Text and IM etiquitte for middle aged people, subtitled, "How to say: I don't have time to talk to you right now, even though it might appear that I am available."
Melody strickland February 22, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Well said Lori. As always- you prove a point and make me smile in the process.

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