It was a powerful moment in a gripping live show, and the theater glowed with two lights: a spotlight on the stage’s lone singer, and a bright square beaming from an iPhone in the lap of the teenage girl sitting — and texting — beside me.
I glanced at the stranger disapprovingly. No reaction. I turned and glared at her. Nothing. When I finally leaned over and whispered, “You need to turn that off now,” she flipped her hair (no, really, she did), emitted an irritated “pssh” sound, and begrudgingly shut it off. Which meant that I could now focus on the show.
Only I didn’t. I spent the third act wondering, as the parent of a soon-to-be-texting tween, how cell phone etiquette is established. Surely there’s a way to teach kids how to use the things for good and not evil … right?
When it comes to setting rules about household chores and thank-you notes, parents have two handy sets of guidelines we can follow: 1) Do what our parents did, or 2) Do the opposite of what our parents did.
Got big plans for Valentine’s Day? I do. I’m hoping to get booped. Repeatedly, resplendently booped. By my husband, of course — I’m not a loose booper.
“Booping,” in our cheeky marital vernacular, means sending instant messages to one other via our computers. My spouse and I both work at home; in separate rooms, on opposite ends of our house, we cyberchat each other all day long, our Mac speakers pertly chirping with each incoming missive:
Boop! “Hi, babe.”
Boop! “Hi, back.”
Boop! “How’s work coming?”
Boop! “Slowly but slowly. U?”
Boop! “Ugh. Need. More. Coffee.”
The dialogue may seem dull and the practice pointless; if we hollered, we could hear each other, and if we opened our office doors and craned our necks, we could actually see each other. Like, in person.
But booping is actually better. It’s easy. It’s fun. And despite social scientists’ fears that quick-yak portals like iChat, Skype, and AIM spell certain doom for interpersonal relationships, booping can be deliciously — unexpectedly — intimate.
In a recent survey by Shape and Men’s Fitness magazines, the majority of male and female readers said that texting, emailing, and other forms of hi-tech chatting led them to have sex earlier in their relationships than they might have otherwise. Why? Through cyber-flirting, they felt connected.