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Why young people text so much

If you haven't been young for a while, and haven't spent much time around young people, you may be puzzled as to why they all seem to have their heads down, looking at text messages on their cell phone. And if you've seen the messages, and are even more confused because they mostly don't say anything important, I think that I can help.

I just got back from working out at the Fitness Center at my local community college. And while there are a smattering of old-timers like me (over thirty), most of the people I saw going by are recent high school graduates. And yes, most of them were checking and sending messages on their cell phones.

I call this *monkey chatter*. Now, before you jump to conclusions about what I'm saying here, please hear me out. The term comes from a documentary that I saw many years ago about a group of baboons who were feeding in a large group in an open field. Their chatter was continuous, and it was clear what they were doing. They were all giving each other comfort. Their world was a dangerous and scary place, and simply knowing that their friends were around was a comfort. The sound of silence would be ominous, as would the sound of an alarm. So the monkeys chattered.

As much as I'd like to imagine that I was brave while attending my first days of college, I wasn't. I was scared, and lonely. There were so many strangers there. If there had been a way to communicate with a friend, just to say, *what's up?*, I would have. And when I did make friends, we hung out together, and did monkey chatter. We had nothing important to say, and that was the whole point.

If you haven't texted yet, try it. Just write some inside joke to a friend like, *remember that penguin?* It will that make you feel good, and connected. And when your friend responds, it will be even better. It's like sitting next to a friend in class, and passing a note, or just poking them in the ribs. People love this kind'a stuff.

Human beings are social animals, and when you see someone texting all of the time, you are seeing social behavior, not the opposite.