I need help! I’m somewhat afraid to ask, though I am now confessing, I struggle with a command of the grand English language. Now, however, there are new and textual peaks to climb as the clever usage of letters and symbols have been interjected into the verbal mix. I remember that day when communication involved such things as writing a letter on real paper, in cursive even! Then mailing said letter in an envelope to a recipient who you desired to communicate with. My first experience with an electronic method was “ye old party line.” Anyone remember those? A number of households on a country road had indeed a real line than drooped lazily from pole to pole connecting house after house with the ability to communicate with whomever you like, guaranteed they had a similar device in their home, of course. It was indeed effective and entertaining at the same time if you happened to pick up the phone at just the right time, and listen in!
Fast forward with me to a day where facetime and GoToMeeting have taken the communication world to new heights. And that’s wonderful… but I haven’t even mastered 10% of my smartphone’s ability! The updates and new apps promise to take me to bold new worlds of communication where no one has ever been before. Did you know that of the seven billion people in the world, an estimated 3.7 billion of them own mobile phones? Only 3.5 billion own toothbrushes! And that one of today’s smart phones has more computing power than all of NASA back in 1969, you know, back when they were landing people on the moon. Get this, 57% of people say they use their phone as an alarm clock. 50% no longer wear watches. And the average American spends 4.7 hours on their smartphones every day and almost three hours of that time is non-voice activities. We now spend more time on mobile apps than we do watching TV. Here’s the one that really got my attention… one in five people actually produce a new kind of brain wave when they’re texting. Now we’re getting to the big question, and it involves the arena of texting.
In the new digital landscape of texting there have arisen many clever approaches to communicating ones emotional responses. Let’s say a facial expression such as a smile created with the use of a semi colon and a right bracket… 🙂 So the texting gate is open and we are off to the races communicating, however, navigating this verbal landscape with no formal training can be a bit challenging. I mean what if I accidentally hit the left bracket in my attempt to send a smiley face send an unhappy face instead? And by the way, when someone texts LOL are they really laughing? Do they have to? Is it hypocritical to type LOL and not laugh? Those of you my age see the dilemma… right? Now we enter the world of emoji’s! These are those small images or icons used to communicate a thought or emotion. Here we go again! The selections are endless and the big question is, do I have to use one every time I text? Every young person out there is cringing and saying either out loud or to themselves… enough with the emoji’s when texting with a parent or grandparent! Now enter the GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format. This animated image now communicates an emotion or thought in the most creative of ways. You text them as a response, and I must say they are creative and humorous. The selections are endless and now instead of texting, or actually calling someone I find myself searching for just the right comical response, only to find myself snapping out of it and saying… I really don’t have time for this! One other side note to the communication journey of life for me… my sweet mother now has a smart phone!!! 🙂 😮 lol!
Amazing, isn’t it? In the lifetimes of people you and I know, the way we talk to each other has evolved from walking down the road to have a conversation, to telegraph, telephone, the digital age and now to places we can only imagine. What will our children and grandchildren see in their lifetimes? Let me suggest that this is all that really matters to those that have gone before and to all who will follow us. The Bible says, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us” … simply put, Jesus, God’s son was born of a virgin, lived, died and rose again from the dead that we might have life everlasting. John said it this way… “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life!” God’s communication to us, plain and simple… that’s what it all means!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.