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My Twitter Resolution

September 1, 2009 | by Sarah Arbess

Texting and Facebook are controlling our lives and I can't take it anymore.

We're one big unhappy text-messaging, Facebooking family. "Just a sec, I'm in the middle of a text" is the common retort around my house. And I admit I'm just as guilty. Either I'm texting, or my kids and husband are floating dreamily, deep in cyber space.

Our lack of family communication is becoming intolerable. So I've decided that out of concern for my family's health, a New Year's resolution to wean ourselves away from our cell phones and computers is in order.

I'm no angel. I hear that familiar tick, tick, tick... and realize I'm tapping my keys again. I'm busy, very busy, too busy to just dial the number and talk to the person I'm texting. This is affecting my relationships. I haven't heard my best friend’s voice in days. I have to check my brother's Facebook to see how he's doing instead of picking up the phone - because even if I make the call, chances are he won't be there because he's too busy texting!

The world record teen "texter" texted 50,000 texts in one month. Did she go to school? Did she go to the bathroom?

My daughter's friends spend untold hours texting each other about nothing. Last month she sent 2100 text messages and received as many. And that's considered moderate compared with kids who send as many as 30,000 text messages a month. The world record teen "texter" texted 50,000 texts in one month. Where were her parents? Did she go to school? Did she go to the bathroom? Did she even have time to eat? Will she need thumb transplants for all her hard work? Our children are depriving themselves of the joy of hearing the intonation and expression of the human voice. Real human emotion is extracted from the "text conversation" and is replaced with banalities. I feel bad that my kids are missing out on the little nuances of conversation that enrich an exchange. Maybe nuance doesn't matter anymore. It's a new world and subtlety is going out the door with convention. "Text speak" has abbreviated the English language to a few short consonants and the occasional vowel. If my daughter was in full “text speak” mode (and procrastinating on doing homework) she might text something like this to a friend, “Omg girl, how r u? Tons 2 do, but am awltp - Uh oh, g2g pbb cyt qt, lul, Kar.” Translated this means, “Oh my God girl, how are you? I’ve got tons to do, but I'm avoiding work like the plague – Uh oh, got to go, parent behind back, see you tomorrow cutie, love you lots, Karen.”

Twitter is the latest curse. When my English professor told me to be concise with my choice of words, I don't think he was referring to "tweets" on Twitter.

Of course this is not to say that there isn't value in email/texting/twittering/Facebooking/MySpaceing. We all depend on it; the ease of communication has transformed the world. But I think we're taking all this wonderful technology and overdoing it.

What happened to face-to-face communication? I even text my kids' teachers to express a particular concern instead of setting up a meeting. It's so much easier to complain from afar. It's time to take a step back and in my home, it's got to start with me.

Thankfully new years are for new beginnings and "if not now, when?" So this year I'm going to "walk the walk" instead of just texting it. When the High Holidays come around, I'll remember to say, "I'm sorry for having wronged you" face to face instead of using Facebook, texting, blasting, or "tweeting." It's harder to do, but confessing to wrongdoing not only builds character, it means so much more to the person on the receiving end of the apology.

And if I stick to my convictions, maybe my kids and husband will look up from their phones and computers when I talk and listen to what I have to say. Maybe we'll actually have dinner conversation. Maybe this Rosh Hashana we'll talk about communication -- with each other -- with God.

And when I stand facing God this Yom Kippur, saying, "For the sins I have committed against you...," I won't be texting it in!

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