Has anyone else noticed that the whole “we’re in this together” thing has sort of morphed into “now I’m depressed and you’re in this alone”? CALL ME!!!
“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE TAKE ME OFF THIS THREAD ASAP. I CANNOT DO IT MYSELF AND NEED TO BE PERMANENTLY REMOVED. Thank you and happy new year.”
That is the first text I sent this year. It was 12:02am on January 1st, 2019. After receiving a flurry of ridiculous celebratory texts with exploding fireworks, streamers, and flashing metallic symbols, I simply snapped.
Texting can be useful. I am still young enough that I prefer to text than call via old fashioned cell phone. Texting is easier, less complicated, more to the point. I admit to being frustrated by folks who insist on a more “personal” approach and only respond to an actual voice a la old- timey Ma’ Bell telephone line. But come on, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
I joined my most recent group text because my good friend was undergoing back surgery in Phoenix and I wanted to be kept abreast of all surgery-related details. I fully understood how overwhelming it would be for her out-of-state brother to text all 35 of her BFFs with multiple and individual updates. I dutifully followed her as she prepped for surgery, went under the knife, and began her convalescence. That was two weeks ago.
I’ve been able to talk with her since, visit her in person, and gratefully acknowledge her slow and steady commencement towards recovery. So why am I still receiving 50 texts a day from her family and entourage? I know I sound mean. I sound selfish, nasty and uncaring. But I can’t take it.
I have a lot of people in my circle who require time, energy, attention, patience, bolstering, etc… I do my best to be there for those to whom I’ve promised those things. I also love meeting and inviting new people into my personal realm. But I did not choose all 35 of these newcomers and I don’t need to know how much “love and healing energy” every one of them is sending twelve times a day. I really don’t. Nor do I need to know who is making the CVS run at 2pm, who is “not really stepping up,” or who looks best in their NYE sparkle.
Plus I’m fairly annoyed by technology in general these days. 1. It works for everyone except me and only works for me when I don’t actually need it. This serves to piss me off on an hourly basis. 2. Nothing technological is intuitive to me. For a time-saving, revolutionary mode of communication, it takes me an absurd amount of time to accomplish the simplest tasks. The other day I spent 3 hours (literally) trying to figure out how to post a blog on my new website. (Luckily my 14 year old son heard me sobbing in a corner of my closet and accomplished this nearly impossible feat within seconds.) 3. Apple is evil.
I have a love/hate relationship with Apple. I love my MacBook pro, my iPhone 10, my awesome camera and video capabilities, and the ease of editing on iMovie. I hate that every few months all of my charger cords stop working, you constantly need to upgrade hardware and software with the newest and shiniest stuff, not because it offers you any improvement in performance whatsoever, but because the almighty Apple stock holders and executives need access to ever- growing revenue streams. Finally, I hate Apple because I cannot stop iTunes from randomly playing “Abba Dabba Dabba Said the Monkey to the Chimp.” every time I put my Fiat 500 into reverse. It’s weird. And creepy.
But now I have truly discovered their sick, twisted plot to drive us all insane. There is no way out of group texts! Oh sure you can find easy-to-follow instructions on line. They tell you to simply click here and here, then hit “leave this conversation,” and you’re free. But that only works if everyone on the flippin’ list is using iMessage. If there’s even one Android user, you’re screwed. I am not making this up! If it’s not a “pure race” of apple users, the best you can do is mute the ever-constant notification bings. But you can NEVER fully escape!
I am not a big “regulate the internet” advocate. I actually dig the whole wild west spirit of bold risk leading to bold rewards. But somehow we need to protect those of us who made the mistake of gently joining a thread of well meaning do-gooders, only to learn that they are eternally and inextricably bound to this gaggle of arbitrary strangers until death do us part.
Please, write to your senator or something. Or at least remove people from your thread efficiently, kindly and respectfully.
OK, so they pay some marketing group a boat load of cash to come up with a name like “iPad Mini?” Did they not think that people would shorthand it as “mini pad?” Which only leads me to ask what we should now call a regular sized iPad? That’s right. It’s a “Maxi pad.” I mean, seriously, nobody thought of that? Or else they did and were simply not deterred by the menstrual connection? Really?
Look, there are a host of poorly named products out there. There’s everything from Pee Cola to Barf laundry detergent. But most of the real doozies are from other countries and sound funny to us but really make sense in a different language. But for a company like Apple to just sort of miss this one seems like a colossal failure in the marketing research department.
The last product I remember with an equally bad name was the little chocolate chews my mom used to pop to help her stay slim. They were called “Ayds.” Remember them? Of course once the AIDS epidemic took center stage, the diet candies lost their appeal and left the marketplace.
I once found a guy in the phonebook named “Al Coholic.” No joke. I called him on the radio and asked him live, on-air, if he’d found it troublesome to go through life with a name like that. He said he had no idea what I was talking about. Like “Al Coholic” was just as vanilla a name as “John Smith,” which given Mr. Smith’s heroic notoriety, is sort of amusing since his name has come to stand for the epitome of unremarkable, trite and ordinary.
When we first were convinced that my youngest son, in utero, was going to be a girl, I thoughtfully presented the name option of “Leah” to my husband Mark. He just stared at me in disbelief. “Lay-a-Gettleman?” he quarried, “”That’s not a name, it’s a sentence.” I had to admit he had a point. I just hadn’t thought of it.
Which brings me back to the whole Kotex thing. I mean sure, people make mistakes. We’re all human. But when you’re a multi-billion dollar company, like Apple, you sort of expect more. Unless…maybe they’re going after that ever-so-elusive, older, female demographic. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe they deliberately named their new device after an outdated feminine hygiene product to try and attract the gals who grew up using those “mini pads.” Now that is ingenious.
Expand the market share from dweebie, gen-y males to mature, married chicks, 54 plus. Hmmm???? Clever move. Boy those guys at Apple are ahead of the curve.
There’s a drama at our house and it revolves around an electronic device. Sound familiar? The only thing unusual about this particular drama is that it’s only occurring within the ravages of my mind.
You see, part of me thinks my 11 year old son, Levi, needs a cell phone. I mean he’s constantly using mine to talk to classmates about assignments and set up social arrangements. Frankly it’s a bit of a nuisance. But more importantly, he sometimes needs to call me from after school activities when schedules change or plans vary. It would be, well…convenient.
However, when I say “cell phone,” I’m actually talking about a device used to connect to people telephonically. No texting. No internet. No video capabilities. Just a simple, highly limited calling plan. In short, not the cell phone he would like to acquire.
I once floated the idea to him. When he heard that it wasn’t 4G or invented by Steve Jobs, he politely declined the offer, preferring instead to remain disconnected and untethered from such an utterly uncool parental figure. So the first part of my dilemma is that he has no interest whatsoever in obtaining a cell phone. We all know too well how items with no personal value are kept and maintained by 11 year old boys. This does not bode well for said cell phone.
The second issue is that no matter how vehemently a parent opposes the whole electronic invasion, eventually your will is eroded and you give in to things you never in a million years believed you’d give into. So I figure it’s only a matter of time before my son manages to coax an evil, spend-your-life-texting implement out of us. But the earlier we start the descent down that slippery slope, the sooner he’ll be lost to us in a sea of cyber-space. Putting off the inevitable, even for a year or two, gives us more time with him as a viable and meaningful member of our family. One could also argue that more time as a child, unencumbered by a device that teaches people to be 100% accessible to their peers, co-workers, and even enemies at any given moment, would serve to cultivate a more thoughtful and emotionally connected adult later on in life. So why start the journey earlier than absolutely necessary?
Hmmm…Sometimes clarity comes from simply seeing your issues in black and white. I think that is my experience today. As I reread this, I am convinced that, unless I am harboring some internally masochistic yearnings, I’d better hold off on the cell phone idea for a while. Maybe I’ll wait until…he’s driving, or legally drinking. Oh lord, I just hope he doesn’t combine those two things; especially while he’s texting.
A woman I know once told me not to talk on my cell phone while driving if my kids were in the car with me. The funny thing about it was that she wasn’t cautioning me at all about safety. She had older kids than me. And she said that driving in the car was always the place where her normally reticent children shared their most intimate life stories. She learned about bullies at school, first crushes, and all kinds of fascinating personal philosophies.
Lately I’ve really been working on this. And it’s paying off in spades! Last night, for example, I learned where my ten year old plans to go to college. It’s ASU, by the way, and he plans on only living in a dorm his freshman year because he wants to have a really nice kitchen where he can cook delicious meals. “Mom, did you ever eat uncooked Ramen when you were in college?” he asked me. “I’ve heard that lots of college kids eat that.”
“No, sweetie,” I smiled. “I always made it a point to take 30 seconds and cook the noodles before eating them.” But then, recounting my earlier days, I added, “But they sure were a great value. We used to buy 10 packs for a buck. That could feed you for a week back in the day.”
After discussing his future menu selections, we moved on to intermarriage; he thought it was not the right choice for him since he wants to raise his kids Jewish. Then he told me about a girl who wasn’t terribly kind in his class, his future career aspirations, what his perfect wife would be like, and how disgusting the egg frittata at school was that day.
It was a mixed bag of somewhat scattered thoughts, yearnings, and beliefs. On the more banal matters, I needed to read between the lines and ferret out the deeper truths that lurked within his complex psyche. Like his obsession with how he would ever be able to pay for auto insurance. It reminded me how much of a planner he is and how uncomfortable he is with uncertainty. His focus on having the consummate spouse represented his ever-growing anxiety around making mistakes; a topic we surely need to raise next week at the talking doctor.
I learned an inordinate amount. And by the time we got home, I felt certain that I knew him better. The mere 10 mile trip that could’ve easily been occupied with a phone call to my mom or a quick voicemail message to a friend, had served as a safe haven for a deep and meaningful dialogue. His off-handed sharing about the everyday facts of his life, his worries and future aspirations, had served to open a portal into his soul and I was deeply grateful for having been granted access to this private sanctum.
I’m not deluded enough to think that this kind of sharing will go on forever. I’m painfully aware of what happens to heart-sleeved little boys who all too often grow into “strong, silent” young men. But for now, I’ll stay off the cell phone. I’ll keep asking the questions. And I’ll keep listening, hard, for the truth behind the words, the essence beneath the answers. Because after all, is there anything more important than that?