Dear batchmates, schoolmates, kabayan, officemates and friends :
After nearly five years of faithful service, we bade a sentimental goodbye to our pre-paid cell phone number last week.
Confirmation came from Unica Hija (UH, one of many terms for our daughter ), who asked a helpdesk person at the assistance center back home to renew its roaming registration, after we forgot to do it when the same expired.
UH was told that not only had the roaming registration expired, but that it was long past the period during which it could be renewed.
Our long, deep sigh for the simcard‘s demise went beyond the rhetorical. Not only was it a source of dependable communication service between us and our children for the last three plus years, it was also a key element in getting to know our significant other.
This mode of communication, it seems, works for OFW, guest workers and accidental migrants like us. Conduct an impromptu survey among Filipinos here and you discover that a lot (particularly those who still have immediate family back home) maintain two mobiles, one for local use and the other to reach the homeland.
Some refine the arrangement further. The blessings of chikka.com coupled with unlimited text allows us stress-free communication, in exchange for merely tolerating banner ads and the rather cheesy sound effect heard whenever a message is delivered.
Kinsmen back home need only to load up twenty pesos, barely a day’s busfare , on the Nokia 5110 (the kind even snatchers refuse to snatch) and you receive messages from them as if they weren’t half a hemisphere away.
[ Note 2 : For now we have given up webcam and audio chatting on our rusty and virus-stricken Pentium, preferring instead the small comfort of knowing that, behind the steady texts are our loved ones and friends. Such is life! ]
** ** ** ** **
As in many of our relationships in the Age of Internet, stages of development tend toward abbreviation; messages therein, short and sweet.
As a result, we fail to give enough emphasis to quality time and depth of relationship, largely making it up as we move along. We take our chances where we can.
We try to make up for intensity with frequency of texts and obsessing with details, but we never get over the fact that absence and hands-on are crucial in the meat of the relationship. (Quite subjective, but this is probably true among lovers as well as in parenting.)
We can’t deny the great burden off our shoulders that texting, especially to our loved ones, has eased through the years, but at the same time we wonder if the same miracle of modern living does so at the expense of meaningful, substantive and quality communication.
Ironically, the pre-paid number (and mobile phone) was issued to us gratis as part of our employment benefit package at a call center, which of course uses communication not only as a fundamental part of its business, but also as an asset itself, absent which such business simply couldn’t function.
After the novelty wore off, we realized that the mobile phone was an airtight method used by the company to keep tabs on us and investigate straightaway if our sick calls were legitimate and our tardiness justified.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise to know that after we left the call center, the number wasn’t cancelled and we in fact were allowed to register it as a roaming account.
** ** ** ** **
Neither can we deny that expressing admiration or infatuation with a member of the oppostie sex is dramatically simplified by the 160 character canvas with which we could say anything we wanted to say, without being inhibited by flawed speech, flawed looks, or a flawed pick-up line.
We know this only too well, having surreptitiously pilfered (off the logbook) the mobile number of a complete stranger two places ahead of us in a cellphone credit loading booth once upon a time. If we hadn’t been able to introduce ourselves to her and establish communication via anonymous text, life for us four years later would’ve undoubtedly been vastly different.
Which in a nutshell, is what texting has been able to do for Modern Man. Allow us to make quantum leaps in social intercourse, without making us realize that genuine exchange of ideas, passions and emotions can only take place with more traditional communication.
For sure, 09159358337 will be replaced by a new simcard as soon as we visit the Filipino grocery, or a thoughtful son or daughter mails us one from home. But the mass of memories, messages and groundswell of emotions that number made possible will never return.
For that, dear number, we say thank you and farewell.
Thanks for reading !
- Have We Lost The Art of Communication? (socyberty.com)
- More Politicians Turn to Text Messaging Campaigns (foxnews.com)
- AgentGenius: Hate texting but your client insists on it? How to email to text (agentgenius.com)