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Full Circle Communication

September 21, 2012 1:58 pm
Written by: Sharon Johnson O'Donnell

I've found a new affinity for texting, due mainly to the fact that without texting I probably would not have heard anything at all from my son who is a freshman in college.

Texting has always been nice for the quick 'I'm here' or "Where are you?" messages whenever I'd go pick up one of my sons, but when it comes to questions that should require a more detailed response, I'd much prefer to actually hear the person's voice. It's so much quicker to say something than it is to type a paragraph, especially when my close-up eyesight is not what it used to be. Sometimes I send a text only to have one of my sons respond, "What???", and then I realize my right hand had been out of position on the little keyboard and what I'd typed was complete nonsense.

But my college freshman, who like is older brother is a man of few words, contacts me from his campus two hours away from me by texting. And oh how much I've found those few words mean.  The simple sentence, "It's been good" can allay a mom's concerns about a first week of classes and help her to get to sleep at night.  Still, I'd like a more in-depth conversation and will relish the times I will be able to talk to him one-on-one in person. He talks more openly then than he does on the phone. When I was in college back in the early '80s, the big thing was waiting until after 11:00 when the long distance rates went down so I could call home (Chapel Hill to Raleigh was long distance then – and it felt long distance at the time).  My mother and I could talk for at least 15 minutes about what happened in our day, but I guess with my sons I should just be grateful for a brief text.  Better than nothing.

FaceBook is another issue when it comes to communicating with my sons. I'm 'friends' with my oldest son Billy, who is a senior in college; but, he has one of the most boring Facebook pages around with rare posts that are usually sports-related. This means I can glean almost NOTHING about his personal life from it. Occasionally, he is tagged in a photo at a party, and lo and behold, it pops up on his Facebook page, and I'm literally giddy at the sight of it..

The flip side of this is that Billy reads my Facebook page and will sometimes make comments. Usually, they are of the sarcastic variety demonstrating his dry sense of humor (although he did post a Happy Birthday message to me and called me his 'wonderful mother'). I don't post a lot on Facebook, but when I do it's usually about my boys or other members of my family or an experience of mine that I find amusing. Thus, one day in June I posted an anecdote about an unfortunate misstep of mine when I was speaking with the minister after a crowded church service and very clumsily fell down the steps, igniting gasps, causing quite the scene. It was so typically 'me' that I felt compelled to write about it. Lots of people made comments, most commiserating with my embarrassment. But then there was one from Billy that said simply "TLDR" .  Knowing this must some kind of lingo for Facebook or other technology, I Googled it.  The meaning popped right up:  Too Long, Didn't Read.  Billy had told me previously that my posts were longer than they were supposed to be, and this was his attempt to point it out specifically. Soon, all my friends saw his post and were also Googling "TLDR", and we all had a laugh about it.  Yet, I couldn't help feeling like I was once more a victim of encountering an overabundance of testosterone in dealing with my sons. I, like most women, like to use words and explain things, while guys don't want any details. Women thrive on details.

And now as parents like me have finally gotten up to speed on Facebook and texting, along comes Twitter.  This is particularly appealing to guys because not only do you need few words to communicate in this abbreviated way, you are limited to 140 characters. " But, Mom, I couldn't write anymore – I was all out of letters!" We are gradually coming full circle back to the cave man era when grunting and smoke signals were the only methods of communication.

TLDR? Perhaps we are already there.



I've found a new affinity for texting, due mainly to the fact that without texting I probably would not have heard anything at all from my son who is a freshman in college.

Texting has always been nice for the quick 'I'm here' or "Where are you?" messages whenever I'd go pick up one of my sons, but when it comes to questions that should require a more detailed response, I'd much prefer to actually hear the person's voice. It's so much quicker to say something than it is to type a paragraph, especially when my close-up eyesight is not what it used to be. Sometimes I send a text only to have one of my sons respond, "What???", and then I realize my right hand had been out of position on the little keyboard and what I'd typed was complete nonsense.

But my college freshman, who like is older brother is a man of few words, contacts me from his campus two hours away from me by texting. And oh how much I've found those few words mean.  The simple sentence, "It's been good" can allay a mom's concerns about a first week of classes and help her to get to sleep at night.  Still, I'd like a more in-depth conversation and will relish the times I will be able to talk to him one-on-one in person. He talks more openly then than he does on the phone. When I was in college back in the early '80s, the big thing was waiting until after 11:00 when the long distance rates went down so I could call home (Chapel Hill to Raleigh was long distance then – and it felt long distance at the time).  My mother and I could talk for at least 15 minutes about what happened in our day, but I guess with my sons I should just be grateful for a brief text.  Better than nothing.

FaceBook is another issue when it comes to communicating with my sons. I'm 'friends' with my oldest son Billy, who is a senior in college; but, he has one of the most boring Facebook pages around with rare posts that are usually sports-related. This means I can glean almost NOTHING about his personal life from it. Occasionally, he is tagged in a photo at a party, and lo and behold, it pops up on his Facebook page, and I'm literally giddy at the sight of it..

The flip side of this is that Billy reads my Facebook page and will sometimes make comments. Usually, they are of the sarcastic variety demonstrating his dry sense of humor (although he did post a Happy Birthday message to me and called me his 'wonderful mother'). I don't post a lot on Facebook, but when I do it's usually about my boys or other members of my family or an experience of mine that I find amusing. Thus, one day in June I posted an anecdote about an unfortunate misstep of mine when I was speaking with the minister after a crowded church service and very clumsily fell down the steps, igniting gasps, causing quite the scene. It was so typically 'me' that I felt compelled to write about it. Lots of people made comments, most commiserating with my embarrassment. But then there was one from Billy that said simply "TLDR" .  Knowing this must some kind of lingo for Facebook or other technology, I Googled it.  The meaning popped right up:  Too Long, Didn't Read.  Billy had told me previously that my posts were longer than they were supposed to be, and this was his attempt to point it out specifically. Soon, all my friends saw his post and were also Googling "TLDR", and we all had a laugh about it.  Yet, I couldn't help feeling like I was once more a victim of encountering an overabundance of testosterone in dealing with my sons. I, like most women, like to use words and explain things, while guys don't want any details. Women thrive on details.

And now as parents like me have finally gotten up to speed on Facebook and texting, along comes Twitter.  This is particularly appealing to guys because not only do you need few words to communicate in this abbreviated way, you are limited to 140 characters. " But, Mom, I couldn't write anymore – I was all out of letters!" We are gradually coming full circle back to the cave man era when grunting and smoke signals were the only methods of communication.

TLDR? Perhaps we are already there.


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