OK, I am not a member of the texting generation, and I do not know if Generation Text can decipher the caption of this column.
Odds are they can.
For my generation, the cell phone is the modern miracle of communications, though its hallmark, “Can you hear me now?” goes back to tin can telephones and they’re only slightly more reliable successors, toy walkie talkies.
While I have no documented evidence to back up this observation, I suspect that well over half the transmissions over these Buck Rogers toys related to communications checks, not to exchange of messages.
Commo checks, in the military vernacular of yesteryear, were along the lines of, “How do you hear me, over?” and the response, “I hear you Lima Charlie (loud and clear). How you me, over?” “I hear you Lima Charlie. Out.”
And since nothing in the Army stays unchanged for 17 years, there is a high probability that commo check protocol has changed since my retirement from the Florida National Guard in 1995.
The need for shorter radio transmissions to make it difficult for the enemy to intercept and triangulate radio transmissions discourages more creative commo check responses, like “Roger dodger, you old codger, over, under and out.”
But I digress.
Mobile communications are hardly new. Ever since “Car 54, where are you?” became the watchword of a slapstick TV police show, communications between and among dispatchers and vehicles in the field have become routine in many industries, notably public safety.
Citizens Band radio expanded the vernacular to “10-4, Good Buddy,” which replaced “Can you hear me now?” as the watchword of wireless communications.
Kind of makes you a little nostalgic for “Roger dodger, you old codger,” doesn’t it?
Today, the cell phone has become the instant communications technology du jour.
Unlike CB radio, once described as a medium that gave millions of people with nothing to say a forum in which to say it, cell phones allow us to target our communications to listeners who actually might be interested in what we have to say. (For the purposes of this discussion, I shall avoid reference to Facebook.)
As a chronologically gifted-American, I have chosen a hands-free device for my mini-van which permits me to talk on my iPhone while keeping my hands on the steering wheel and my eyes on the road.
While there are those who say even Bluetooth devices are distracting, I find little difference between these and talking to a passenger or listening to the radio, let alone engaging in CB radio chatter.
Texting is another matter. Texting is a method of communicating with another cell phone user in writing, a keyboarding skill requiring both hands and both eyes. It is a little like sexting, but with your clothes on.
I have tried neither.
I am committed to the notion that driving requires the commitment of both eyes and at least one hand at all times. I must reserve the right to keep one hand free for swatting mosquitoes.
Those who keep track of these things say that texting drivers are more likely to cause accidents than drunk drivers. This is merely an observation, not an endorsement of drunk driving.
It is a suggestion that impaired driving while texting should be forbidden with the same level of commitment as other forms of impaired driving.
There are two approaches: enactment of laws forbidding driving while texting, which currently are in place in 39 states; and encouraging peer pressure from high school kids, emphasizing to their classmates that teenage drivers are not invincible, and that texting while driving is a deadly activity.
I suspect the latter is more effective.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He can barely master texting when sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons. Actually, he never feeds pigeons, but you get the idea.)