Subourbon Mom

Sorry–I Was Sleep Texting

I recently read an article about “sleep texting.” Apparently, this is becoming an issue, especially with teens, who have their phone attached to their body, sucking their communication skills away as fast as the Seahawks sucked away Peyton Manning’s dreams.

This happens at my house, too!

Similar to sleepwalking, people are now reading and responding to texts while asleep.  Some of those afflicted have even resorted to wearing mittens and socks to bed to prevent this from happening.  Wow—that’s a generational difference. We older people have been known to wear socks with lotion in them to bed to keep our feet and hands from cracking–not so we don’t text our friends. In fact, I have no desire to hear from anybody after 8:00pm, much less contact them in my sleep.

One doctor said having your phone where you can hear it buzz while you sleep is similar to how a mother is conditioned to respond to a baby crying in the middle of the night; the slightest sound wakes her up. For those of you who had babies, you remember that sleep-deprived stage when you woke up to every little scratch and squeak your newborn made? Well, teenagers are sleeping as lightly as we did, and it is making them even more pleasant to be with during the day.

But in a world where communication is becoming such an issue, with bullying at the forefront, just imagine the drama that could ensue from sleep texting in high school. (Please note I am aware of how pathetic my attempts are at mimicking the texting shorthand Daughters 1&2 use–I still can’t bring myself to use the word “totes.”)

It’s 2:00am and “Julie” is woken up by the buzz from the phone on her night table:

Samantha:  you up?

Julie:  ya y?

Samantha:  Jack just broke up with me

Julie (dreaming about Grey’s Anatomy, which she’s been watching non-stop since Christmas break):  McSteamy?

Samantha: wut?!? Since when do you like jack…  (red, angry face emoticon)

Julie: he’s hot but he likes Lexi

Samantha:  Lexi?  In Algebra?

Julie:  Lexi loves him.

Samantha: how do u know?

Julie:  they had sex

Samantha: when? how do u know?  I thought she was a virgin!! (seven confused emoticons)

Julie:  but he has a kid and she’s mad

Samantha: ???

Julie:  (back asleep–no response)

Samantha:  WTF I hate it when u do this u r so weird why don’t u answer me?

Julie:  (no response—asleep)

Samantha:  I knew u couldn’t b serious about it u always make a joke about everything  u r supposed to be my best friend  don’t even talk to me at school! (fifteen crying emoticons)

Now, imagine Julie trying to explain that she has no memory of sending those texts to an irate Samantha, just after Samantha has crucified Lexi and Jack at school.  (is there a shaking head with pity emoticon?)

You Can’t Learn How to Date by Watching The Bachelor

I recently read a book for my job entitled Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina. (Like my kids, I have waited until the last minute read it, and now I’m wishing I had some Cliff’s Notes.)

In this book there was a chapter on the use of electronics by young children–according to research, children spend years learning body language and facial cues, some of which happen in milliseconds–so fast we aren’t even aware that we show them.  For example, the subtle straightening of my mother’s shoulders and slight narrowing of her eyes were tiny clues, a shot over the bow before the non-verbal onslaught began; her pursed lips meant she was really annoyed, and I would be dealt with later. As I got older, I got better at seeing the first body language volleys before we ever got to the pursed lips—it saved a lot of verbal effort for both of us.

One day, there was enough silent tension in the room between me and mother that my brother asked his wife what was going on. She whispered, “Can’t you tell? They’re fighting!”

Reading body language and facial cues was extremely important for our survival as a species. If a person could not read the body language of an enemy or angry tribe member, they had a high likelihood of dying (see pursed lips above).

There are also body language cues that indicate when a potential mate is interested (or not). When the guy in a bar doesn’t know that we are interested when we play with our hair, lean in close and bite our lower lips, he’s going to go home feeling a little…blue. If people had not learned how to read those cues, we would have died off as a species millennia ago.

You can’t learn how to pick up a girl by watching The Bachelor.

The author goes on to say that children must learn these things from interaction with an actual person, not a video or CD.

Which brings me to texting, emails and tv.

I’m a fan.

I love texting and emails because as I’ve gotten older, I like people less and less. Texting and email enable me to simply ask for the information I need without engaging in actual conversation.

I love television for the same reason—I can lose myself in the storylines because I don’t have to respond to them in an involved way. The directors of the shows even help me out by going in for close-up shots when there is an emotion I need to pay particular attention to (HBO’s The Newsroom is great at this—thank you Aaron Sorkin).

Using technology to socialize is so much less tiring—and it’s making me lazier than those people who circle the gym parking lot to find a space (I mean, really? You’re going to the gym! Walk a little–consider it your warm-up).

I used to love sitting around, chatting with my friends, family, and anyone who would hang out.  I loved drawing people out, hearing their stories, and offering advice (often unsolicited and even more often un-used). It’s often how I got ideas for my stories and books. There is a reason Southerners love front porches—we can talk and watch the world go by, and get to know you. It’s also why Southerners are so good at the backhanded compliments. We watch and learn what makes people tick by spending time with them, then jab them a silver, sugar-covered shrimp fork.

These days, I am usually in the car and in a hurry.  I have resorted to texting and emailing in the name of efficiency, and talking in a very distracted way on the phone as I multi-task at home. And so, it seems, does everybody else.

I miss sitting on the porch, solving the world’s problems, or hearing about a friend’s concerns, and even mine. I miss the clink of ice in a glass as the conversation ebbs and flows. I miss the puzzle that is a friend’s face as they try to convey something that happened, or work out a problem. The subliminal cues are the best part—they are what let other people into our inner sanctum, even when we don’t mean for it to happen.

But, don’t worry, I’m not giving up my electronics. I want my Candy Crush fix as bad as the next person.

People still irritate me, and I love my tv shows, but I think I’ll try to make more of an effort to have some meaningful conversations once in a while, just to keep my ability to read people’s social cues up to snuff. You never know when you might need them to survive—I’ve got teenage daughters. If I ever needed to be able to read subliminal cues, it’s now (yes, girls, I can see your eye roll from here!).

%d bloggers like this: