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Let’s Face It

Okay, you’ve seen ‘em. Heck, you could be one. I admit I am. This growing number of people who text and ___________________. (Choose one: walk, shop, eat, ring up groceries, stock shelves, install your cable, go to the bathroom, deliver packages, fill gas tanks, stand on line, order take out, read mail, and so much more.) Unless you’re submerged in water, along with whatever else you’re doing, you can probably do it while texting.

What’s this obsession with texting? Part of it may be addiction, that need to be connected at all times. Part of it may be compulsion. And part may be convenience. But whatever the reason, this is some seriou

s stuff. There’s a new term: “Nomophobia,” which stands for “no-mobile-phone phobia” and it’s on the rise. A recent study showed that teens send an average of 300 texts a day, while 75% of people take it with them into the bathroom. (Well, duh. No one wants to miss an important phone call, am I right?)

But this obsession with sending and receiving text messages – something that was primarily invented for the hearing impaired – is taking over our lives. So are there other reasons? Are we trying to save time by doing two things at once? Aside from Anthony Weiner and Tiger Woods, is it really accomplishing anything? Okay, we might be saving a few extra seconds by doing two things at once, but in the long run we’re losing something.

I had lunch recently with a friend I hadn’t seen in over ten years. I messaged her on Facebook to say I would be in her town. At the restaurant, I put my phone on vibrate and left it in my bag. She, however, like so many, left hers on the table. Sure enough, every few minutes her phone buzzed. I expected her to glance at it and ignore it, but no. Each time, she’d pick it up, cradle it in her hand, and return the text, all while continuing our discussion. But I could tell she’d stopped paying attention to our conversation.

It used to be we communicated with friends face to face. Now, while we may still have face-to-face contact, we’re not even looking at each other. It’s become more like Facebook-to-Facebook.

When our plates were cleared away and we were coming to the end of our limited visit, another text stole her attention. Hhhmm, I thought, two can play at that game. I retrieved my phone and sent a text. A moment later my friend looked up with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry,” she said, after reading the text I’d just sent her. “I’m addicted to my phone.”

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