I was in the middle of a class discussion with my sixth-graders recently when a “Bing!” from my pants pocket interrupted the proceedings.
“Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Ed,” observed one of my students.
The sound of an iPhone signaling the arrival of yet another e-mail is as familiar to today’s kids as the hum of an old-timey pitch pipe was to me. All of my elementary school teachers used one, more to get the slackers to pay attention, not necessarily to sing in tune.
I’ve been dragged, for the most part, kicking and screaming into the technological age. I do love the magical powers of the digital video recorder, though, because if I want to watch the boob tube, I can do so by zooming through commercial interruptions. I’d convinced myself that it was more fun to watch zombies getting filleted on “The Walking Dead” — at my leisure — than surfing the Web on a cell phone.
And texting? Has modern life really gotten to the point that we’re too busy to communicate with our own voices?
But then I got my iPhone.
My first texts were purely utilitarian. I hunted and pecked my way to relay the message that my wife, Betty, had emerged from knee-replacement surgery unscathed. There, in a hospital waiting room, I became just another slave to technology, trapped in the glow of a mini computer screen.
Shortly thereafter, I decided to take a walk on the wild side. I texted my son, Mac, a college freshman, a quick “How’s it going?” A few minutes later he responded with, “Dad, at first I thought my phone broke, or that you had an evil twin out there. Welcome to the 21st century.”
That sentiment was texted to me over and over again, and I deserved it.