Was Einstein talking about texting?

Published 12:00am Saturday, July 6, 2013

I received an e-mail with the following quote from Dr. Albert Einstein: “I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Below those lines were pictures of people holding cell phones, obviously texting. The first one was a beach scene with several boys sitting on a bench. Another depicted a male at a sports event where those around him were cheering. The next showed some people at a table with food in front of them. Each gazed at a cell phone in his or her hand. Some girls sat texting at a museum. Several people who were jammed in the back seat of a moving convertible were texting, as was the driver.

Is applying that statement of the renowned German physicist to what is occurring in our society today a little harsh? Well, I must admit, everywhere we go these days, we encounter scenes similar to the ones I mentioned. I do not understand why texting takes precedent over mealtime conversation, fun at the beach, fascinating collections in museums, a ride in a convertible with your hair blowing in the breeze, etc. Are texting and receiving texts more exciting than human contact and conversation face to face with someone?

I’m not against texting when you are not offending or endangering someone. (Texting while driving is dangerous and unlawful) I text occasionally, although I would rather not text from a cell phone. I admit one reason I bought my iPhone was to text my busy granddaughter who has little time for telephone conversations or lengthy e-mails. She texts a message in a few words that would take me several sentences to express. I find it is easier to text from my iPad using the keyboard with cover my son gave me for Christmas last year. Of course, I generally do not take my iPad with the rather heavy keyboard cover with me when I am shopping and running errands around town. If I need to text then, I use the phone.

I often make a mess punching those small characters on the built in pop-up keyboard on the iPhone. It appears to me that texting is a skill, just like typing. It takes practice to master bouncing your thumbs up, down, and across that tiny keyboard. I plod along accidentally erasing about half of what I have managed to put on there to begin with. Sometimes an unfinished message sails merrily on its way because I unintentionally touch send.

I stand amazed at the technology available to average people like me. In addition to texting my granddaughter with my favorite electronic device, the iPad, I often use it to order e-books. Just like magic, they land on it within a few minutes. A tap on the appropriate app also takes them straight to my iPhone in seconds.

Despite excessive texting and those revealing photos, I believe today’s technology tools inspire learning and creativity rather than creating “a generation of idiots” as Dr. Einstein once predicted.

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