Sunday, September 13, 2009

Textual Face Googling

The handoff, in American Football, is defined as a play in which the quarterback, who starts every play with the ball, literally hands the ball to another player on his own team, transferring responsibility for moving that ball to someone else.

I would like to propose a new definition.

The handoff, in American societal communication, shall from this point on, refer to the moment in time when a person uses one of the following phrases; "I'll text you later. Are you on Facebook?" or "Google it!" to transfer the responsibility for communication to someone else.

By using these phrases people are literally saying, they would rather take the chance of not speaking to you later, as opposed to definitely finishing your interaction now.

These 3 phrases have turned useful and fulfilling communication with other human beings into something delayed, hollow, and extremely ridiculous.

My sister dated a guy once that we all referred to as "The Texter." This individual, while seemingly normal enough in person, was apparently incapable of dialing and talking into a phone. His primary form of communication was text messages. If he was proposing a date, drinks , or just checking in, he did it all through text message.

He was, in essence, a 14 year old girl.

Now I will not deny the importance of text messaging. I do it all the time. In fact, I text so much that I recently had to increase the amount of text messages I am allowed every month as part of my plan.

My friends and I use the text message as a supplementary form of communication. Not as the form. But as time marches on, I see more and more people using texts as the sole way they interact with others.

This guy my sister dated was physically incapable of calling her to schedule plans. Perhaps it is because we have made typing so second nature that talking to people actually made him uncomfortable.

We are dividing ourselves out from the responsibility of face to face contact. In fact, I am pretty sure that within the next decade we will start seeing "Google it" popping up on people's tombstones.

Some time ago, when I still believed in the gym, I was there (getting huge obviously) and I overheard 2 people talking. It was a guy hitting on a girl who was obviously not interested. It was a painful situation. So painful in fact that I considered dropping a dumbbell on my own face so I wouldn't have to watch it anymore.

This guy is rambling on and on and I can't look away. It was like a really long, slow, car accident. He was completely oblivious to how much this girl didn't want to be talking to him.

In the span of 5 minutes this clown told this girl to "Google it" three times. Once about some band he liked, once about his tour guide from his trip to Israel, and by the third time he said it I didn't catch the reference. I was too busy eyeing a sizable weight to end my misery.

Google it? No. That girl didn't want to Google it. She's not taking notes. She's not a reporter OK? You are not hitting on Lois Lane. This is a conversation not a press conference.

Don't tell me to Google things because I am not going to. If I wanted to google it I would have Googled it before I left the house. I want you to tell me what it is. Now. That is the point of having a conversation. And if you don't know what it is, you shouldn't be talking about it in the first place. I will not Google it. I will not Wikipedia it. How dare you turn nouns into verbs on me? Why don't you go Google it and talk to me when you have some actual knowledge?

A hundred ago when somebody didn't know what something was, they didn't say;

Hey go dictionary it.


You should library it.

No. They just, of their own volition, got up and looked it up. I don't need you to tell me what knowledge I don't have. Go find your own knowledge.


But I think the ultimate slap in the face is the one that Facebook hath brought upon us.

Long ago in olden times, when people wanted to become friends or stay in touch with somebody they'd just met, they made their best efforts to do so. What started as, "May I stop by your home sometime?" eventually evolved to, "Can I get your number?" and has finally settled on, "Are you on Facebook?"

I remember the first time it happened to me. It was my last semester in college and I ran into somebody I wanted to keep in touch with. I was about to say "Hey give me your number and we can chat" but before I could say that I was hit with;

Are you on Facebook?

Oh. Oh I see how it is.

Facebook has become the consolation prize of friendship. Too lazy or uncaring to ask for a phone number, we offer up a half assed "Are you on Facebook?"

We do it so much so that it has practically become mandatory for all interactions.

So basically what you are saying is instead of spending 10 seconds putting 7 digits into your phone and pushing save, you are telling me you are going to go home, turn on your computer, get on the interweb, log on to Facebook, search for my name (pending you can spell it correctly) click the button that says "add as friend" and then wait for between 3 and 15 days while I make you sweat it out on whether or not I will accept your friendship so as not to make you think that I am a a loser with nothing else to do but sit on Facebook 23 hours a day and instantly respond to any and all requests that come my way.

And then, finally I will click "accept" so that instead of being a person of moderate relevance in your cellular phone, I can be added, and probably lost, amongst the hundreds of "friends" you are "connected to" on Facebook.

Yea, you are right. That is way better than pushing 8 buttons.

I suppose it's better than actually becoming friends. In fact, if you want to become friends with me, you should probably just go through my blog.

And if you don't know the address, well... just Google it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Richard! I totally agree with you...I'm not very advanced in technology myself, although right now my primary means of communication is electronic, but that's due to having lived in a rural French village. I just moved to an English province and I was telling a friend that I felt awkward trying to have conversations with people in the Breakfast Room of the's a very social area where people want to know where you're from, what you're up to. I have my excuse being isolated, but "The Texter" is just a douche, did he also walk around shouting to nobody with one of those blue tooth ear pieces? DOUCHEY!

I love your sarcastic humour. Go library it, ha ha ha. I've been asked if I am on Facebook which I'm not, but honestly I'm even having trouble twittering! I was so clueless, that I used to call it twattering like Steven Colbert did as a joke, except I was just being me, lol.

Have we really gotten to the point where the art of conversation is a thing in the past? I hope not! I've only just begun!!!

rxBambi said...

I think you hit it right on the nose, although while I'm working I actually prefer my kids/sibs/and hubby to text me if they need something, that way I can reply when I have time. I know it's not an emergency ("she won't stop looking at me!") and they know it's not an emergency ("Mom, what's for dinner?") so there's really no need to interrupt me at work. I'll text the punishment or the answer to the never-ending dinner problem when I get a minute to do so.
Here's an interesting fact tho that I've noticed over the last couple of months, starting just since mid-summer maybe. The teenagers are actually texting less. Yes, less. They have all said at one time or another that they'd rather just talk on the phone then text. I was shocked. However, at dinner they are still texting under the table where dad and I can't see. Yeah, right.

rxBambi said...

ps- sorry for rambling on!

Caroline B said...

Oh how I agree....I'm too busy having a life to bother with Facebook & find the idea of the world & his wife knowing the minutiae of my life totally abhorrent - if you want to know how I'm feeling, ask me! My mobile phone is used so rarely that it took me a week to discover I'd run out of credit - texting is useful but not the be all and end all, I'd rather chat. As for Twitter....I just don't get it. I've never been told in conversation to 'Google it'..think I'd be tempted to reply 'Google this....!' I'm off back to my cave & roast mammoth now.......

Optimistic Pessimist said...

i don't have Facebook (i'm the last person in the word not to) however I am asked on a weekly basis if I have Facebook. Drives me mad.

And the texting as a sole means of communication. Ridiculous. I know people that have whole friendships based on texting. If you don't talk to the person in real life then I say the friendship doesn't exist.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

p.s. I thought of you the other day. My son (out of nowhere) started talking about BB&B. He's eight.

He started talking about all their wonderful products and coupons and great deals. I seriously think he's been reading your blog.

Pat said...

Well, I was really feeling cool when I was on Facebook before my daughter. But I'm hardly on it, and she's on it just about every day. I don't twitter, and as far as texting, I've sent a couple, but have a hard time with it. My thumbs must be extremely large or something. And I don't really know how to switch from numbers to letters. I'd rather call.

Nancy said...

I'm not on Facebook, for the simple fact that I'd just as soon not catch up with certain people. They are not in my life now - because I don't want them to be. Nor do I need to let everyone know all my boring thoughts, neuroses, trips to the grocery, etc. But even my sister has asked me (twice) if I'm on Facebook. I say no, but I have a blog. Bleh - no response. Like it's too hard to read two paragraphs. My family, with the exception of my oldest daughter, have absolutely no idea what my blog is about. They have no interest. Which brings me back to your point. People are too lazy to take the time to get to know each other, or to nuture relationships. We want to abreviate everything! Then they feel bad when the relationships in their lives aren't working. Hello? Pick up the damn phone, or read my blog!

Fellow bloggers know more about who I am anyway.

Great rant - I enjoyed it.

The Indolent Worker said...

Richard, some truthful opining there. Regarding the FB question, In the past, I've felt that the person asking makes a subtle statment: "Hey, I'll add you as a friend because you're interesting enough to look at from afar... but if I really wanted to talk to you, I'd share phone numbers and call you." Are people more afraid to be intimate? Or is this reminiscent of the days, when you'd run into your neighbor, share pleasantries, and say, "Hey, I'll see you at church or I'll see you at school?"

I am a self-proclaimed texter. I usually text people with whom I don't want to speak. But I often find myself texting people in situations, where I cannot talk and simply desire distraction. Either way, I retard my relationships with other people by overusing my thumbs.

Keep up the good work Boomer.