Text versus talk

I fear this anecdote I’m about to tell you may be all too familiar. On a fairly regular basis, my wife and I are asked by one of our daughters, or their husbands, to drive a grandchild to school, to buy a jug of milk on the way home, or to borrow a tool or something. Most of these requests come to us on our phones, but they’re usually preceded by that characteristic “ping” in our pockets, signalling a text.

“Can you pick up the kids?” the request reads in a bubble on the screen.

Whether my answer is “Yes” or “No,” I generally grab the phone – often my land-line – and call to find out if everything is all right, if there’s an emergency or not. For me it’s instinctive. My reaction is and has always been that I can gather more information by listening to a voice face-to-face, than if I wait for the bubble with the three dots (illuminating in sequence like a Mustang car turn signal) to give me an answer.

Resist to live

Jan Palach memorial at Wenceslas Square in Prague.
Jan Palach memorial at Wenceslas Square in Prague.

On Jan. 19, 1969, a university student, named Jan Palach, died in a hospital in Prague. Three days earlier he had gone to Wenceslas Square, near a statue of the 10th century duke of Bohemia (and the “Good King Wenceslas” of Christmas carol fame). There, in front of his history classmates and the authorities, he set himself on fire in protest against the Soviet Union’s occupation of his homeland. His suicide was a final act of defiance against the latest in a long line of occupiers of his country – the Czech Republic.

“It was [his] last appeal for resistance,” author Petr Cornej wrote.