I was on an airplane recently that was completely full—as almost all airplanes I ride seem to be these days.
I was seated on the aisle next to two female college students who were clearly friends of each other. Maybe half the time they spent doing their homework. The one directly next to me, whose work I could see, first did some sort of trig-ish assignment, and then turned to peruse a textbook with a chapter that summarized the work of Freud by applying his theories to Kurt Cobain’s suicide—demonstrating the futility of attempts at cultural relevance on the part of textbook writers, because the event occurred in 1994, probably before those girls were even born.
But what I noticed most wasn’t their homework. The rest of the time they were doing two things: talking, and scrolling through their photos on their cell phones. I was deeply impressed by the speed with which they could do both.
Their speech rate was phenomenal. I’m no slouch myself in the talking department, and I have friends with high speech rates, but I’ve never heard anything remotely like these girls. And their fingers flew across their cellphones in similar fashion. They were the hummingbirds of talk and of phone photo galleries—and, I’d imagine, of texting.
I have a feeling they are hardly alone. The newer generations have developed skills we can only dream about.
Which gave me the idea that perhaps on YouTube there are proud videos by young people showing how fast they can text. Instead, I found something even more organized: speed texting competitions. And apparently this has been going on for quite a few years.
Here’s a video about one of the biggest contests, which is held in NY and has a prize of $50,000:
These kids are focused and serious. You can mock or revile what it is they happen to be serious and focused about (which, by the way, includes not just straight speed texting, but blindfold texting and behind-the-back texting), but at least it’s better than a lot of other things they could be doing with their time.
I don’t text, by the way. By the time I’m finished blogging for the day, a keyboard is the last thing I want to deal with.