The New Rules of Texting

The New Rules of Texting

When it comes to texting, it’s a brave new world. No one under the age of 30 uses punctuation anymore. And why type in coherent sentences, when a confused face, a unicorn, and a wine glass emoji say it all?

When it comes to texting, it’s a brave new world. No one under the age of 30 uses punctuation anymore. And why type in coherent sentences, when a confused face, a unicorn, and a wine glass emoji say it all?

I feel bad. Earlier today, I did something very hurtful – and to my own daughter, no less. I sent her a terribly insensitive text. What was the hostile, insulting thing I wrote? “Hope you’re doing well. Would love to see you sometime soon.”

I feel sick about what I’ve done. As my daughter explained it, I was bullying her and being demanding – both clearly conveyed by my use of a period at the end of each sentence. You read correctly. The  period(.) also telegraphed anger and that I wished to end this text exchange.

How rude of me! After all, my daughter has a lot on her plate with work and grad school. After apologizing profusely and asking if she could ever find it in her heart to forgive me for my heartless affront, I asked her to enlighten me about any other texting rules that perhaps I had been routinely violating without knowing it.

Oh, I’m aware of a few do’s and don’ts. I know you shouldn’t type out novels (but I do it anyway – partly just to annoy my kids). I also learned that the use of ALL CAPS is considered SHOUTING and is frowned upon. BUT I DON’T CARE!! That said, after my daughter stopped reading my 200-word soliloquy about all the things I’m grateful for as her dad, she texted back: TEXTING PROTOCOLS HAVE EVOLVED DAD  GET WITH THE PROGRAM

According to my daughter, and the newly abridged millennial version of Elements of Style, when it comes to texting etiquette, I’m stuck in the Pleistocene Era. Who knew that nowadays it’s “bad form” to use any punctuation when texting? Here I thought I was with the times texting my kids rather than telephoning, when actually I’ve been driving them crazy with my constant barrage of commas, apostrophes, and in-your-face use of question marks.

Apparently, not only is a period interpreted as a command, but also as a blow off. And exclamation marks?! Tread carefully there. Did you know that using a single exclamation mark means you’re being sarcastic? Me neither! I mean me neither. However, two exclamation marks is fine. But stop at two. Because three !!!’s is over-the-top irritating. It means you’re being a drama queen, so take it down a notch, sister!!

The use of capital letters is also something to avoid at all costs, especially if the word is normally meant to be capitalized. Never text “New York” when “new york” (or better still, “ny”) will suffice. Evidently, proper grammar and syntax are indicators you’re a total nerd who is just not woke enough for today’s under-30 crowd.

Let me give an example. Normally, I might be inclined to text my daughter, “Hi, Rachel. Did you have a good day at work? I can’t wait to see you when you come to Camano Island. Call me soon, if you have a chance, okay? Love you!” First of all, the period clearly showed I was ordering her to come home. Then the derisive single exclamation mark made a mockery of my love for her. And all those capitals!! The correctly written text would have looked like this: “hi rachel did you have a good day at work i cant wait to see you when you come to camano island call me soon if you have a chance okay love you”

Better still, eliminate all those time-wasting vowels: “hi rchl dd u hv a gd dy at wrk cnt wt 2 c u whn u cme 2 cmn islnd cll me sn k lv u”

That’s better. But if you really want to be respectful of your kids’ communication preferences, you should eliminate those pesky adjectives, adverbs, and nouns – young people can’t be bothered to read complete thoughts. That’s so 1990’s. They are way too busy checking out Instagram or Tinder to wade through your meandering message.

Young people today are extremely busy. They don’t have time to make eye contact, let alone call their parents. If you really need to get their attention, send a text – but keep it to under eight words, please. They don’t have all day.

Young people today are extremely busy. They don’t have time to make eye contact, let alone call their parents. If you really need to get their attention, send a text – but keep it to under eight words, please. They don’t have all day.

Technically, if you truly want to adhere to the official guidelines of texting civility in this brave new world we live in, bail on the notion of sending your child a text in the first place. After all, you texted her a mere two weeks ago. Back off!! You’re starting to crowd her, dude.

In summary, when texting one of your under-age-30 offspring, remember these helpful DON’T’s:

DON’T drone on and on. Get to the point.

DON’T SHOUT at them with angry periods and in-your-face ALL CAPS.

Wherever possible, DON’T use words when texting. I’m sure there’s a four-emoji chain that can clearly communicate, “I won’t be able to make it to your place before 7pm because I’m stuck in traffic, so could you order us a veggie pizza?”

DON’T expect them to spellcheck their texts. So what if your college graduate’s text auto-corrected to change “I’m putting up my prius for sale” to “I’m putting up my penis for sale.” You should know what he meant.

DON’T text your kids too frequently. Once a month seems slightly excessive but within the margins of millennial social norms.

DON’T force them to wade through yet another adjective-laden tome about your recent home remodeling project. They won’t be spending any time at home when they come to visit you at Christmas anyway, so why are you telling them this stuff?

Most important of all, DON’T expect a reply – EVER. Your kids have far more important things to do than to keep in touch with their parents.

Be patient. Just wait till they turn forty and have self-absorbed teenagers of their own. Then they’ll be texting you night and day (begging for your parenting advice). And their kids will mock them as so passé. After all, fifteen years from now, who’d be caught texting? That’s so 2020.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

Zoom for Seniors

Zoom for Seniors

Dear Senior Citizen, Welcome to the exciting world of Zoom. If you’ve never had a Zoom video call, don’t worry. It’s easier than beating Betty Smith at BINGO, even when she plays with 10 boards.

Dear Senior Citizen, Welcome to the exciting world of Zoom. If you’ve never had a Zoom video call, don’t worry. It’s easier than beating Betty Smith at BINGO, even when she plays with 10 boards.

Welcome to today’s lesson: Zoom for Seniors. If you’re 65+ and would like to learn how to turn your computer into a videophone, this will be an exciting adventure. However, if you thought you had signed up for Zoomba for Seniors, you’re in the wrong class. And it’s spelled Zumba. You might want to consider our Spelling for Seniors class, as well.

What exactly is Zoom? If you ask my 24-year-old tech-savvy daughter, she’ll tell you it’s a video-telephony and online chat service using a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform for teleconferencing, telecommuting and social relations. My daughter is a geek. In case her explanation is a tad too technical, let me simplify: with Zoom, you can see and talk to your friends on your computer.

Everybody’s doing Zoom, even Zumba fans. This is thanks in large part to the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shelter in place mandates. If you’re not familiar with the “Coronavirus,” may I suggest our introductory lecture series, What’s Been Happening Since You Crawled Under a Rock. Employers use Zoom to conduct team meetings, professors to deliver classes to their students, and the rest of us to complain to our friends that there’s nothing to do – all without wearing pants.

Zoom is surprisingly easy to use. Let’s first talk about system requirements. I’m not talking about your digestive system, though you could talk to your doctor via Zoom about your acid reflux. I’m talking about required devices: a smart phone, an iPad, or a computer with a web cam. No, a web cam is not for detecting spiders in your house, though I can envision a market for that. A common question I hear from seniors is, “How do I attach my rotary phone’s twisty cord to my Zenith TV’s rabbit ears?”

I now realize there should be some pre-requisites for this course, such as a rudimentary knowledge of life and technology in the 21st century. In short, no, you can’t use a rotary phone. You need one that can connect to the Internet. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “Internet,” how exactly did you find the website for this class?

If you are still using a phone like this and planning to place a Zoom call, let me just say, you’re adorable. However, may I suggest upgrading to a phone that was not in use when Ozzie and Harriet were still the rage on TV.

If you are still using a phone like this and planning to place a Zoom call, let me just say, you’re adorable. However, may I suggest upgrading to a phone that was not in use when Ozzie and Harriet were still the rage on TV.

Next, you will need a Zoom meeting invitation. Anticipating your next question, no, it won’t be delivered by the USPS or UPS or even the USPCA. It will come in an email. The invite will give you a link that you simply click on to join the video call at the appointed time.

What’s so great about Zoom? For starters, you can actually see the person you’re talking to! And the call is free – even if the other person is across the country, across the world, or in your garage, borrowing your power tools without asking. That’s because you are talking over the Internet. I know, it’s almost as amazing as the Ronco Pocket Fisherman you bought your wife for her birthday in 1984.

Another cool aspect is that several people can be on the call at the same time! So if you and your Elks cronies – all 67 of them – want to have a virtual hangout, you can with Zoom. That is, assuming you all have email and a Wi-Fi or broadband connection. Clueless about the terms “Wi-Fi” and “broadband”? Might I suggest you switch to a bird watching class instead?

Zoom has some handy features including “chat,” which lets you type messages to other people on the call. But remember when you type a chat message to Charlie about how Archie cheats at golf, Archie will be able to read your message, too – unless he left his glasses in your garage when he borrowed your power tools.

Some pointers about using Zoom. First, you want to adjust your camera so the other person can see you. As interesting as your ceiling may be – or your boxer shorts – most people prefer looking at your face – and by your face, I mean your entire face, not the top of your receding hairline.

Second, be sure the microphones are ON, unless you all are versed in lip-reading.

Third, know how and when to turn OFF your video. Just as you can see your grandkids or your buddies or your boss on Zoom, they too can see you. So, if you feel the need to pick your nose or get up to grab a beer, wearing nothing below the waist but a pair of black socks and Crocs, consider pausing the video first.

Which brings me to Zoom etiquette. Newbies tend to talk over each other, especially if there are a bunch of you on the call. It’s best to wait until the other person has stopped talking before you begin your diatribe on the demise of the nation at the hands of our youth (your grandkids excepted). Also, you might want to shave. The grunge look doesn’t work for seniors.

For the adventurous Senior, try a group Zoom call. Together you can discuss fascinating topics like, “Anyone having trouble with their dentures?” and “Whatever happened to Carl? He was here a minute ago.”

For the adventurous Senior, try a group Zoom call. Together you can discuss fascinating topics like, “Anyone having trouble with their dentures?” and “Whatever happened to Carl? He was here a minute ago.”

Don’t worry if your first Zoom experience is a bit bumpy. That’s normal. It’s daunting to figure out any new technology, like Zoom or a plasma TV or your 10 ft. inflatable snow globe. That’s why I recommend recruiting your seven-year-old grandson. He can ensure your maiden voyage goes smoothly, helping you log into the session, testing your audio, and reminding you to put on pants.

Finally, just remember, if you’re struggling to navigate a Zoom call with your old pal Benny, you’re not alone. He’s every bit the technology rookie that you are. Benny too is confused why he can’t hear you and wondering whose forehead he’s seeing on his computer screen (um, that would actually be Benny’s). He’ll get the hang of it, and you will too – before the next century, or your money back.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Alexa, Tell My Neighbor to Mow His Yard

Alexa, Tell My Neighbor to Mow His Yard

This is the Amazon Echo Dot – about the size of a hockey puck. Just say a command, starting with “Alexa,” and it will play music, tell you the news, or even turn on your alarm system. But there is one thing Alexa can’t do. She can’t drive your car – yet.

This is the Amazon Echo Dot – about the size of a hockey puck. Just say a command, starting with “Alexa,” and it will play music, tell you the news, or even turn on your alarm system. But there is one thing Alexa can’t do. She can’t drive your car – yet.

Consumer technology has come a long way since Al Gore invented the Internet. Amazon has always been a pioneer – first with its mega-store retail website, then the Kindle electronic book, followed by their ingenious TV Fire Stick. But my favorite Amazon innovation has to be the Echo, which revolutionizes the way people do things, from turning off lights to entertaining your kids. And it is all done with a simple command starting with “Alexa.”

I recently received this handy gadget for Christmas. It’s been a God Send. It’s hard to believe I used to walk all the way over to the radio to change the music, rotating the dial over and over until I found an acceptable station. Exhausting!  But thanks to Amazon, now all I have to do is tell my Echo, “Alexa, play Polka music”, and presto, I am instantly basking in the dulcet sounds of the Beer Barrel Polka – and driving my wife out of the living room. (Not a polka fan. Go figure!)

Initially I used my Echo solely to play music or tell me the weather forecast for places I never planned to visit (“Alexa, what’s the forecast for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia?”). Over time, I discovered she can do so much more. For example, I just asked, “Alexa, tell me a random fact”, to which she replied, “All manhole covers are round, because a square one could fall into the hole.” If I were a manhole manufacturer, that factoid could have saved me millions in R & D. 

I once blew an entire afternoon, just asking my new technological BFF endless random questions:

 ‘Alexa, how much do you weigh?’

‘Alexa, what’s your favorite dinosaur?’

‘Alexa, how do I get rid of a dead body?’

‘Alexa, what sound does an elephant make?’

‘Alexa, who you gonna call?’

‘Alexa, beam me up.’

‘Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya.’

‘Alexa, what’s the first rule of Fight Club?’

‘Alexa, is there a Santa Claus?’

‘Alexa, can you sing in auto-tune?’

‘Alexa, who shot the sheriff?’

‘Alexa, I am your father.’

[Admit it. If you own an Amazon Echo, you just tried issuing some of these commands, didn’t you?]

Alexa had an answer for every query I posed. I mean seriously, how did mankind survive before Alexa was born? Of course, sometimes, Alexa’s response can be a bit unsettling. I just asked, “Alexa, how long will I live?” Her response: “The average lifespan for a hippo in the wild is approximately 40 years.” Did she just insult me?  [Admit it. You just tried that command too, didn’t you?]

But Alexa can do so much more than just play music, tell lame jokes, and occasionally insult you. You can connect her to appliances so you can turn them on from your phone – rather than walking the 20 arduous feet needed to do it yourself. You can also connect Alexa to devices like a robot vacuum. Now, instead of using the robot vacuum app on your phone to tell it to commence vacuuming, you can tell Alexa to tell your robot vacuum’s app on your phone to tell the robot vacuum instead.

You can even connect Alexa to your Amazon Prime account and command her to find movies and TV shows just by saying their name: “Alexa, find the movie, The Notebook” (not that, as a man, I would ever actually watch that chick flick, mind you). And to think there was a time when human beings had to use a remote control and type the name of the movie letter by letter. How barbaric.

I learned that I can use Alexa to find a good Indian restaurant (just kidding, I would NEVER do that – I hate Indian food), schedule a reminder, or plan a vacation. It seems that there is almost nothing Alexa can’t do. Almost….  I recently asked Alexa to give me a million dollars, and she rudely replied, “Hmm, I seem to have misplaced my wallet.” Such a tease. [And you did it again, didn’t you? Don’t lie!]

Alexa sure would have come in handy for Captain Kirk on the bridge. Might have saved a few planets or conquered the Borg. All without flicking a single switch!

Alexa sure would have come in handy for Captain Kirk on the bridge. Might have saved a few planets or conquered the Borg. All without flicking a single switch!

Last week, I installed the Man-Support upgrade onto my Echo. It costs a little extra, but it’s worth every penny. Now, when my kids ask for money, I just consult my electronic in-house attorney: “Alexa, should I give my kids more money?” to which she says, “I strongly advise against that.” Then I tell my kids, sorry, Alexa has spoken.

If my wife and I have a disagreement, I just turn to Alexa: “Alexa, who’s right, me or my wife?” Alexa: “On this matter, your wife is wrong.” And if my wife asks me to make dinner for a change, I consult Alexa as well. She is quick to respond, “Your wife is being unreasonable. Offer to do the dishes.”

I can’t wait for the next series of updates, so that I can start issuing Alexa even more helpful commands like “Alexa, do the dishes for me.” Or perhaps “Alexa, please find my keys.” Or “Alexa, please make our kids call us once in a while.” 

Of course, with technology this sophisticated, it’s just a matter of time before my wife starts getting wise and asks, “Alexa, did my husband order a set of Titleist golf clubs on Amazon even though I specifically told him we can’t afford it?” If so, I’m screwed.

Apparently, there’s one thing Alexa sucks at – keeping a secret. Guess I better get rid of all these Echo devices right now – before somebody gets in serious trouble.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

Don’t Let Email and Facebook Take Over Your Life

Don’t Let Email and Facebook Take Over Your Life

Email addiction - GrouponThere is a growing problem in this country. It’s the bombardment of messages we receive virtually nonstop every single day, thanks to the increasing omnipresence of email, text messaging and social media in our lives.

Today I want to tell you how you can break free from the distraction of – hey look! An email from Ace Hardware. They’re offering 15% off hammers today only. How’d they know I needed a new hammer? Where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about the importance of staying in the moment and not letting outside email distractions cause us to get – Wow! My team is up by 10 at the half.  Thanks for the text, Sis. Go, Buckeyes!

My point is, we need to take back control of our lives and not let our laptops and smart phones dictate how we spend our time. There is nothing more important in life than – Adele’s latest tweet announcing, “I’m back with a brand new single. Watch the video now: http://trib.al/utC***z”.  Wow, that was awesome. She sure has a set of pipes….

As I was saying, too often we bounce from one distraction to the next when what we really should be doing is using our time to appreciate – this important email I just got from Donald Trump claiming that Ted Cruz is an idiot….

Continue reading “Don’t Let Email and Facebook Take Over Your Life” »

The Secret to Decoding a Job Description

The Secret to Decoding a Job Description

decoding a job description - cartoonI don’t like to brag, but in the past year alone, I’ve submitted my resume to more than 500 employers, all of whom had one thing in common: they all shredded my resume after deciding that my stellar qualifications would make other employees look bad.  I have, in the process, unlocked the key to what head-hunters are really asking for in their job descriptions.

The first step to getting an interview is knowing the critical skills employers are seeking. This is crucial so you can position your skills properly, by which I mean totally make things up. Don’t worry that you have no eJava, Javascript, or C++ programming experience when applying for that programmer position at Microsoft. That’s beside the point. Your job is to get in the door.

Recruiters don’t actually want to make it easy for you to understand what the position requires. They insert into every job description a long list of trendy but vague buzz words designed specifically to obscure what the work really entails. This is done to enhance the interview experience, providing prospects with the opportunity to explain how they can perform a job that no one at the company actually understands.

Now, thanks to me, you no longer have to play their devious game. With this simple job description decoder guide, you can peel back the flaky crust of ambiguous nouns and adjectives to bite into the chewy center of what they’re really looking for.

When the job description says: “Must have excellent communication skills” …

When decoded, what it really means is: You must be able to communicate only by means of TLA’s (Three-Letter Acronyms) and condense complex strategic marketing plans into email burps no longer than the 140-character count limit of Twitter.

When the job description says: “Must possess an innate ability to work independently” …  Continue reading “The Secret to Decoding a Job Description” »

Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype

Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype

Alexander Graham Bell - historic callOn March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made perhaps the most famous phone call in history, from his Boston laboratory, summoning his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, who was in the next room, with the following words: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” A phrase so short, the entirety of the message could have fit into a tweet.

Little could the Scottish-born scientist know that less than 130 years later men and women the world over would be using an iteration of his primitive device to play Words with Friends when they should be working and teenagers would use it to type random letters like LOL to their best friend Meagan for no apparent reason.

Bell was a pioneer of the greatest societal-changing bleeding-edge technology of his era. One can only imagine, then, what his very first phone call might have been like, had he had the advanced technology of Skype internet video calling available for this momentous occasion. The following is a dramatic reenactment of how many scholars believe the call might have gone.

BELL: Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

WATSON: What?

BELL: I said, Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

WATSON: I’m sorry, Mr. Bell. I can see your lips moving, but I’m not hearing anything. 

BELL: Oh, dear. I can see you, Mr. Watson, but I cannot make out a word of which you speak.

WATSON: What?

BELL: I can see that you’re trying to impart a message, but alas, I am not able to detect the sounds emanating from your lips.

WATSON: Still nothing. Sorry, sir. By George, I’ve an idea. Perhaps you’re muted. Might that be the problem?

BELL: Oh, that’s much better, Watson. Can you hear me?

WATSON: Yes, Mr. Bell. I hear you ju$% fi# $#(%$ $%!  Um, as I was say- [The audio drops suddenly.]  Like I … unable to #$&% …you’re … &$##(*!@

BELL: What in the Lord’s name are you trying to impart, my dear Watson? I am hearing all sorts of ruckus, and I am barely able to comprehend a word you utter! Continue reading “Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype” »