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Twitter has baby boomers atwitter

I was accused recently of being too old to be a credible baby boomer columnist. And after due reflection, I have to reluctantly agree.

Because I don't Twitter.

This would not have seemed, to me, to define a "with it" and "without it" person a few weeks ago. But that was before I spent time with a teenage grandson, the oldest of my eight.

Most of my grandkids are under 10, but this one youngster is in high school. And he lives on the computer, his texting cell phone and his iPod.

I'm in awe of his ability to write with alacrity using only his thumbs. I'm also aware there are fears we're raising a generation that will be unable to communicate verbally.

Nothing new about that observation, of course.

In 2009, the New York Times reported teens were getting about 80 messages a day, on average, or almost 2,500 a month. Physicians and psychologists, said the report, are concerned about everything from repetitive stress disorder to sleep deprivation for teens.

Just a year later, Pew Research reported that half of the teen texters send more than 200 texts a day, or 6,000 a month. Boys typically send and receive 30 texts and girls about 80 a day.

Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber recently released a video warning teens about texting while driving. Too many crashes, he said.

So what does all this thumb-throbbing really mean for the future?

I'm going out on a writer's limb here and saying we might be raising a generation that stays in touch better than we do.

Just consider what e-mail has done for you. Yeah, I know about spam and all the junk, and I also know I am hearing from more folks than I used to when the only way to communicate was paper and pen.

Yesterday's e-mails are now Facebook, which is the primary way I know what's going on with my son and his family in New Hampshire — although I did get a little miffed to hear, on Andy's Facebook before getting a Grandma update, that a grandson had suffered a concussion.

Still, Facebook lets you "talk" to many people at once. It also lets you tell them a lot of inane verbiage that makes me wonder how people set value on their daily activities.

But I digress.

My point is that keeping up is hard to do. Like Twitter. Once you fail to learn to Twitter, what else will slip by you? Before you know it, the whole world will be chatting in some bizarre "language" that leaves you in the dark computer ages — old in lack of action if not actual years.

I never thought it would happen to me. But who among us does? We assume if we know how to download our digital photos, we're right on the curve. So how come Apple keeps updating its iPad?

Which, naturally, brings us to apps and notebooks and my Kindle, which is heavy and cumbersome compared to the Nook.

Keeping up is hard to do. Unless you are a teen.

My grandson spent most of his evening on his laptop listening to music through earplugs. Our conversations were brief. His mom says sometimes hers don't even exist. "I'll pick him up at the bus stop and he's listening to something and when he gets home he goes upstairs. And sometimes, somehow he eats something, but I don't see him again until morning."

That's the way teens are today, she says.

Why am I hopeful? We survived the TV era — the bug eyes from morning till night watching sitcoms and game shows and even (good grief!) The Ed Sullivan Show. We haven't shut up.

Old? Me? Ask me later. Right now I'm Googling how to Twitter. Life is tweet.

Jane Glenn Haas is the founder of She can be reached at [email protected]

Twitter has baby boomers atwitter 08/23/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 4:30am]
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