Editor's Notes

How you answer the following question, I’m guessing, will have a great deal to do with when you were born.

Do you think texting is as good as talking on the phone?

Our four adult children — who range in age from 36 to 27 — sure seem to think it is. If I happen to ask one if they’ve talked to any of their brothers or sisters lately, they’ll most often say yes.

What they really mean, I’ve learned, is that they’ve texted with each other.

To be clear, I think that’s great. My wife Mary and I are thrilled our grown kids stay in pretty constant touch. We have a variety of text message strings of our own with them, including one for us as grandparents and a sports-focused one I have with our two sons.

Sometimes, when I’m watching a sports event or a shared favorite TV show, I find myself going back and forth with texts to one or more of our kids passing along thoughts, sarcastic comments, etc. 

Text messaging is a terrific way to stay connected.

It’s just not as good as talking.

Some years back, before there was AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc., the old Bell System telephone company ran an ad campaign with the jingle that went like this:

“Reach out. Reach out and touch someone. Reach out. Call up and just say ‘hi’.”

I’ll bet some of you reading this could still sing it.

Mary and I are among the diminishing few that still have a landline in our home. Picking up that phone — and an extension — so we can talk to our kids simultaneously is a weekend habit.

We also take advantage of the FaceTime app on our iPhones to do video calls with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons who live in Charlotte, N.C. most Saturday mornings.

With Hanukkah beginning at sundown today, and Christmas Day arriving Wednesday, it’s prime time for connecting with family members and friends.

I think it would make a great holiday gift to pick up the phone to talk rather than text people we care about.

Making a phone call shows whoever you’re reaching out to that, for at least that moment, they have your undivided attention.

Actually hearing your voice and maybe getting a spontaneous laugh beats the heck out of getting a typed LOL or a smiley face emoji. 

Sure, that aunt or uncle my go on and on about what they had for Christmas dinner or what they remember getting for Christmas when they were little.

And maybe that old friend wants to tell you more than you really want to know about their new job or significant other.

But that friend or relative may be lonely. We’ve got a real problem with isolation in society today. The actual sound of your voice and the knowledge that they have your ear for a few minutes might be the best thing that happens to them that day.

Stopping by in person would be even better, but with so many families — including ours — scattered about the country, that often isn’t practical.

As you celebrate the holidays, texting someone is probably the least you can do.

For people we genuinely care about, we can do better.

Email comments to dlyons@dailyitem.com.

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