UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From Mom’s cell at 11:30 p.m: “Hi hun!! How are you doing? I tried to call, but you didn’t answer. I hope you’re studying right now and not drinking. I LOVE YOU!”
Hold the phone. Did I just receive a text message from my mother?
REPLY: “uh hey mom I can’t talk now. I’m in the library doing work, call me tomorrow.”
(And just to clarify, by “the library” I mean my friends’ apartment and by “work” I mean power hour).
According to a recent article in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, text messaging is catching on in the older population. It’s a quick and easy way for parents to keep tabs on their kids — plus it makes them feel really cool.
When it comes to conversations like these, I’m torn. Parents and technology are a risky mix.
On the upside, text messaging requires some degree of concentration and effort, so you’re less likely to attempt a response to your parents’ late-night check ups unless you’re completely sober.
Even if you decide to reply, drunken texting can always be blamed on a faulty T-9 (a feature that they won’t understand anyway, so just the mere mention of it will get you off the hook).
Text messaging can also curtail any mundane details you are less likely to be interested in (i.e. your cousin’s recent graduation or Sparky’s trip to the vet to be neutered).
On the downside, text messaging leaves parents fearless to contact their wayward children at all hours — you may be sleeping or partying or in the middle of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and they don’t care.
Also, a missed call is understandable; you could be in class or volunteering at a homeless shelter. But there’s really no excuse for an unanswered text message, and even parents get that.
If you don’t reply within 10 minutes of their first message, many parents will grow anxious and begin re-sending the same message. (“What’s up?” seems to be the most popular.) Remain calm when you open your phone to reveal these 24 new messages.
You will, most likely, have to explain more than once that more text messages does not mean a faster response.
Worst of all is the temptation to use text message shorthand. Fortunately for me, my technological-naive mother hasn’t picked up on any abbreviations yet. She’s still using complete sentences and proper punctuation, which I appreciate. If you’re over 40, you should always use correct grammar — I believe that was the purpose of all that ruler slapping back in the mid-1900’s.
Sadly, parents’ experimentation with technology does not end with text messaging. Some parents are beginning to explore the world of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which is where this has to stop. Fortunately, I’ve never been engaged in an AIM conversation with either of my parents, but I feel for those who have.
I guarantee that you will take years off your parents’ lives when your Friday night away message alerts them of your sinful plans to “booze it up!!”
Also, they’re going to figure out that you didn’t spend the night in your own bed, like the angel that they think they’ve raised, when your away message reads “@ Brian’s” at 10 p.m. and also at 2 p.m. the next day.
Finally, let’s not forget those links to your Facebook profile and Webshots in the info. If parents get a little too bold, they might start clicking around and stumble onto that stuff.
So if you’re one of the lucky few who hasn’t yet shown your parents how to text or use a computer for something other than e-mailing or playing solitaire, be forewarned.
When it comes to parents and technology, it’s better they play it safe with landlines and dial-up Internet connections.
This way, we avoid the awkward frustration of sexypsumom1952 AIMing me about when I plan on coming home for Thanksgiving break.