The Geek Ponders The Answering Machine Scale


In relationships, as in all things, there are certain barometers of how extroverted or introverted you may be. Some can be hard to read. Take for instance, Facebook. How many friends do you have? How many friends do your friends have? I’ll bet more than half of you can quickly name someone you know that has a crazy large number of friends and someone who has a very small amount. (My money is on your dad for the small amount. I know mom has friends because they are ‘game friends’)

 

But that’s the point than, isn’t it? I mean, in your school, the popular kid has 400 friends on FB, more than anyone else at your school. But then your gramma betsy has 1367 friends because she spends her days plowing crops. (That’s Farmville, get your head back on FB.)

 

Or not, lets move on from FB. Because FB is a modern tool encompassing the online world, but what is a barometer for your REAL life relationships? Some scoring system that, if horrible you might hide it from the world, and if good enough, might reach out and tell the nearest stranger? This barometer is tried and true to cause social anxiety and extreme euphoria throughout your life. And best of all, its been around since your gramma was beating your dad at atari. (Yeah, she may act like she doesn’t understand atari, but set her in front of a game of missle command and you will not hear from her for days.)

 

I speak, of course, of the small graphical indicator light on your phone that says you have, (And often how many) text messages on your phone. It’s ancestor, the answering machine, and the answering machines son, the voicemail, have been measuring our success with REAL human beings for many years, but due to an increase in text messaging and a decrease in actual calling, it has fallen to the lonely text message indicator.

 

In the answering machine days we were out of the house, now we may be at work, unable to pull our phones out for fear of them being taken away or getting fired. They may be away at church. They may be on silent (That’s no vibrate) at the doctors office or on vibrate (That’s no sound) in a library. But then maybe you sneak it out, take a peek… The little light is blinking. You are loved. Life is good. You don’t mind seeing your co-workers catch you looking at your phone because you can play it up, “Oh, I just get these darn text messages ALL DAY! Its like just leave me alone” but really you love it.

 

And such the reverse is the opposite, you have no flashing light. You are not loved. You have failed life. You quickly replace the phone back in its drawer, pocket, or purse. You now check it again even quicker, again and again with less time between checking that you think, ‘OH GOOD, I’m loved, it’s blinking.’

 

I jest, you see, but I understand the joys and heartaches of the ‘Answering Maching Scale’ than most kids these days. Like many people my age, I lived for a long time with an answering machine.

 

Oh the joys of coming home and seeing the red light flashing. The lady tells me “You have …3… new messages … 1st message…” Oh, yes, those are good times. See you can’t hide the answering machine. If your whole group of friends walks in the room and hears you playing it, it’s all on you. 3? Not bad, someone likes you… 6? The crowd whoops and hollars at you, you playa. 0? Oh, sorry, ummm, we have to go, we just remembered someone more popular lives across town.

 

And so, too, is the text message indicator and indicator of love, much like its grand father. You’re just starting a relationship, to get to know, see if you want to date, 1 message? 2 maybe? Ok, that’s cool. They like you… 3 to 5? Ok, the good news is they like you, the bad news is, they may be stalking you. 10+? Ok, change your phone number and come stay at my place for awhile because this person is NUTSO!

 

And you will hear conversations like this, “He sent me 15 texts since lunch? That’s obsessive, right? Yeah, I’m gonna dump his creepy butt for being so creepy.

 

You see, we all want to be loved, in our own way. Whether it’s getting a few text messages, a sweet voicemail, or your grandmother plowed your fields, (ON FACEBOOK!) you love getting messages of some sort.

 

And if you don’t, well nuts to you.

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