Hubby has a new WhatsApp group – his fourth – five old college classmates. There’s another for his running group, his cycling club and his family. I sense creeping jealousy with every Ping. Is his cell phone getting more of his attention than me?
He carries the phone to the table at mealtime. Ping as I serve his salad. Ping while cutting my chicken. His eyes can’t resist checking to identify the sender. He keeps the phone in his pocket – Ping – while we watch “Breaking Bad” on Netflix. Ping. Ping. A few nights ago, he left – Ping – it on his bedside table and went upstairs to his office. I climbed into bed, savoring the cooling touch of sheets and sighing in horizontal contentment, read a while and then turned off the light. Eleven o’clock. Just as I slipped into that cottony twilight zone before sleep takes over – Ping. Ping. Don’t those people know what time it is? And why the obsession – Ping – with responding immediately? Channel grazing with the remote control now faces severe competition as THE MOST ANNOYING HABIT. Ping.
Our Brooklyn-er son spent a month with us over the holidays. He immediately went out to get a phone number to use while here, though he seldom talked on the phone. With the apparatus before him, he texted message after message arranging get-togethers with his local friends. I watched his thumbs tap–tap the tiny keyboard, wondering to whom he was writing. Texting rules out any possibility of motherly eavesdropping. I don’t want to appear like the Grand Inquisitor: “Umm -who are you texting?” Granted, he did install and instruct me on the use of Drop Box, Bluetooth and a National Geographic Birds App on my iPad.
WhatsApp-ing and texting are exclusionary forms of communication. Anyone in the vicinity of the texter or WhatsApp-er is transparent, invisible, and YOU ARE NOT A PART OF THIS GROUP or THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
This is a lot to take for someone who grew up with clunky, black dial telephones, handwritten letters, thank you notes and get-well cards sent in stamped envelopes, delivered by the postman.