My 13-year-old girls got cell phones for Christmas. It's something I didn't think I'd do, at least until they were 16. I'd like to say Santa brought them for safety reasons, but that's not true.
I'm ashamed to say I just wanted the twins to fit in. They were the last in the class to get phones (except for one brave mother who's still holding out.) The problem: texting had become the major source of communication between their friends. I felt like my girls were left out of the loop, so I caved.
Now, I understand that a young teenager's form of communication goes something like this ... "He's sooo cute." "Yeah, I know, right?" "Waz up?" What I didn't foresee was the junk mail that keeps the phones buzzing all day and into the night.
Perhaps 75% of the texts the twins get are forwards of chain letters. You know the kind, "Send this to 14 friends in the next five minutes and something wonderful will happen. If you don't, calamity will befall on you and your loved ones for the next four generations."
Here's my favorite veiled threat they receive umpteen times a day, "If you're truly my friend, you'll send this back to me and to 10 other girlfriends who mean the world to you." Ahh, geez. Around here, it's double the fun. When one of the twin's phone trills, five seconds later the other's phone goes off. Between the two of them, they can expect upwards of 24 texts in the next five minutes.
These kinds of forwards put my girls in a sticky situation. First, Mom insists they delete them. That of course dooms them to a life of friendless misery. Even more threatening--they're limited to 250 texts a month. They have to decide if these forwards are "text worthy." It's so hard to be a teenager these days.
What's funny is that these kids think they invented the chain letter. They don't understand that the concept has been around for decades. One of the first recorded chain letters in 1935 swamped post offices coast to coast. It was a pyramid scheme asking you to send a dime to a person on the list and you'd get mountains of coins in return. I'll get one of these occasionally, asking me to send a recipe or dishcloth. I apologize if your name was on my list~you never got your promised item.
I remember the mailman delivering my first chain letter. I was maybe 12-years-old. I showed it to Mom and she explained the concept, she said she got them as a child, and she instructed me to throw it away. Well I held on to it. I brooded over it. I had 12 days to hand-write 15 copies or my life was going to go down the toilet. Again, I caved. I locked myself away and scrawled until my hand cramped. The worst part was having to sneak 15 postage stamps out of the house. As far as I can recall, the chain letter brought no rewards or punishments, tangible or intangible.
The next time one came in the mail, I decided "Mother knows best" and I threw it away~and then dreaded that unspeakable harm sure to come my way.
Take care ~Sarah D.