My wireless phone company sends me two text messages a month: one telling me my bill is available for review on their website and a second telling me my payment has posted. These are the only text messages I get and they are two text messages too many.
Text messaging is nothing more than information overkill, and yet according to the Washington Post this morning, 158 billion text messages were sent in this country alone, most of them by people ages 13-24 (and probably a good few million of them were votes for Sanjaya).
I don’t know why teenagers text messaging each other bothers me so much. Aside from the fact that I think it’s a cop out way to talk to each other, and that I don’t believe every feeling or thought that pops into your head needs to be conveyed to another human being, I shouldn’t give a damn what teenagers do with their cell phones. The only teenagers in my life are my stepsons and how they use their cell phones is their mother’s problem, not mine.
Still, it bugs me.
Maybe it’s because in the same headline scan I did this morning I came across the story of the “honor” killing of a Kurdish girl. Seems the men in her family had a problem with her supposedly dating a Sunni boy and decided to stone her to death in front of a crowd of people who did nothing to stop it. She was 17 years old, for God’s sake. That’s something to, “OMG!”, text message your friends about. (Can you see my eyes roll? Because I’m having a really hard time being sarcastic enough in words. Maybe I need to insert a cell phone photo here of me rolling my eyes. You think?)
Then I got an email from Amazon saying they’ve shipped one of the books on my summer reading list – “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. When Beah was 13 and living in Sierra Leone, the government forced him into military service. Given drugs and an AK-47, Beah, now 26, killed countless people before he was 16 and finally turned over to a UNICEF rehabilitation center.
The irony and the chasm between an AK-47, an honor killing, and a cell phone is obvious and yet difficult to make sense of in a way that satisfies my need for finality. While I wish for a world in which the opposite is true, Beah isn’t the only boy who was ever abused by his government, the murdered Kurdish girl is not the only girl killed by her family, and more than a few insipid teenagers rack up hundreds of dollars in text message bills every month. These stories have no completeness to them, no happy, satisfying ending. They’re just gnawing at the back of my head. At some point, probably soon, I’ll let them go and accept them for their incompleteness and outrageous irony.
In the meantime, life only happens in this moment. And in this moment on this Sunday morning, I am simply befuddled.